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Be Strong! -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 09/29/22

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

September 29, 2022

4 Tishrei 5783

Shabbat Shuvah

Parashat Vayeilech

In 1927, the Warner Bros. Studios released what is widely considered the first talking movie, “The Jazz Singer.” For those who don’t remember (or didn’t see the 1980 remake!), it is the story of Jakie Rabinowitz, the son of a cantor and an aspiring Broadway performer (portrayed by Al Jolson who was, in fact, the son of a cantor!). Just as Jakie got his big break, his father took ill. His mother and the congregational president came and asked him to sing the Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur Eve in his father’s stead. Of course, Yom Kippur just happened to fall on the same night as his new show’s premiere. The producer had no interest in having his star go to a synagogue on opening night. After much hand wringing, Jakie—of course!—returned to his childhood synagogue and sang the Kol Nidre. I couldn’t help but think about this film during the course of our Rosh Hashanah celebration this year. The day before Rosh Hashanah, our Cantor Roth tested positive for COVID. She would not be able to lead our services as expected. Although her daughter Abbie is not currently in a Broadway show (as far as I know!), she was one of the people who stepped up in our Cantor’s absence. I’m sure I’m going to forget someone, but here are some of the people who took on additional responsibilities during our services as a result of our little COVID situation: Heath Weisberg, Cantor Richard Nadel, Charlie Ehrenfried, Abbie Krupnick, Todd Bletcher, Iliana Weisberg and Stan Krieger. Since the cantor was not the only person with COVID, we had a number of other roles to fill at the last second. I cannot thank our High Holiday Chairperson Jeremy Markowitz enough. He never got flustered. He just kept finding people to do stuff. Phil Kantor stepped up and took on more tech responsibilities. I could go on and on. We are so blessed to have a community of talented and giving people who would not let COVID ruin our Rosh Hashanah. It turned out to be a beautiful two days, though we certainly missed those members of our community who could not be with us. I’m certain they are disappointed that they could not contribute to our Rosh Hashanah services this year. In this week’s Torah portion, Moses was getting the children of Israel ready for life without him. He had to convince them that they would be just fine with Joshua in charge. Over and over again, Moses said to Joshua and to the Israelites: “Chizku ve’imtzu—be strong and resolute.” I believe the show business equivalent of that is: “The show must go on.” Well, High Holiday services are not a show. And we are optimistic that Cantor Roth and the others will be back with us for Yom Kippur (and many more High Holidays in the future!). But, I think it’s safe to say we all learned a little something about our community these past few days. We are strong and resolute, and “the shul must go on!” L’Shanah Tovah, RAF.


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