A Shabbat Shalom Message to our Kansas City Jewish Community

I love knowing that Shabbat is coming each week. I look forward to lighting the candles and welcoming in the Sabbath Queen. I love knowing that I have a set time to disconnect by shutting down my email, turning off the phone, and separating myself from the hectic activities of the week – the meetings, the calls, the appointments. I love having the opportunity to read and reflect.

Somehow these past two weeks have been different. Sheltering in place has redefined my reality. Yes, I’m still busier than ever on email and Zoom but I miss the everyday humming of activity in the office, the morning coffee routine, and walking into everyone’s office to say good morning and catch up.

I miss seeing all the faces on the Campus - Ty when I first walk into the building, the CDC kids excited to push the button to watch the doors open automatically, the ladies with their yoga mats tucked under their arms, and all the staff rushing to their offices to prepare for the day. I miss it all!

And now Shabbat is here again. The prayers, the challah, the wine. I still do Kabbalat Shabbat with my staff, however, it’s virtual. We still have our weekly chats, but we are a bit more stilted because the technology doesn’t lend itself to multiple conversations going on at once or capture the smiles since we can’t see all the smiles or nods at once. There really is something about being crowded in a little kitchen and looking into each other’s eyes. There is something about ending the week with your colleagues, the people with whom I have spent countless hours trying to make the world a better place. It’s given me the opportunity to reflect on my life and what’s really important. It has made my reaching out intentional because this is the only way I can connect. It has forced me to appreciate the small things in life I sometimes take for granted – a smile, a hug, a laugh, an animated conversation. I never thought I wouldn’t have these things whenever I wanted. I miss it a lot.

A Hillel teaching, Al Tifrosh Min Hatsibur, that we not isolate ourselves has new meaning for me. We need each other. We sustain each other through our connections, our relationships, our caring. Make this time one where you nourish your soul and others by checking in with each other, dropping off a treat to a friend, picking up groceries for an elderly neighbor. These are precious gifts we can do for each other every day not only when someone is sick or sad or alone or in crisis.

When this is all behind us, Iife as usual will not be life as usual as I knew it two weeks ago. I will see life through different lenses. I will take a moment to appreciate the small everyday things. I will take the time to reach out and call someone just because. And I will continue to love Shabbat, but with renewed vigor. I will appreciate the quiet time, family meals, friends, reflection not as an escape from the week but as the gift it truly is.

Stay well, chaverim, and take care of yourselves and each other.

Till we see each other again……

Shabbat Shalom,