A Message from Emeritus Rabbi David Hulbert
Muslims and Christians have been sorely tried over the past months because mosques and churches have been closed. Only now have they been allowed to re-open, for ‘private prayer’, with absolutely no singing! It’s striking that the religious life of Jews has not been affected to nearly the same extent, because even without access to synagogue buildings, we have been able to pray, study, conduct funerals, meet socially and even join in quizzes, all through Zoom. Even our Orthodox friends have been creative in organising their on-line services in the late afternoons, before Shabbat and Yom Tov begin.
Yes, Zoom has allowed ELELS to keep the show on the road under difficult and trying circumstances. But before we indulge in too much self-congratulation, we must remember that many of our members have been unable to participate, because they don’t have laptops with microphones and cameras, because they aren’t on broadband, or just (to quote Morecambe & Wise) that they aren’t able to press the right keys in the right order! So on top of their social isolation, they have been cut off from their synagogue. These people mustn’t be forgotten - they may be your family or your neighbour. So I would like to say a big Thank You to all the volunteers on our ‘Telephone Tree’ – people who have been regularly keeping in contact with our isolated members over the ‘phone. I know that many of our members, particularly the more elderly, have really appreciated these calls over the past months – just hearing a friendly human voice is so important.
Yes, the continuation of regular congregational tefillah is important on Zoom, but is no more or less important to synagogue life than Gemillut Chassadim – practical acts of kindness, care and concern for our fellows. For many isolated individuals without e-mails or the internet, their Telephone has truly been their Tree of Life to all those who grasp hold of it!