April 2023: President’s Message

How will TBS Remain Resilient in a Post-Pandemic Era?

I recently participated in a Zoom Meeting hosted by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). Synagogue presidents and vice presidents from all over New England, New York, and Canada discussed themes around the topic: “Tradition, Transition and Change: What to Keep, What to Tweak, and What to Get Rid Of”. One of the USCJ synagogue consultants shared that synagogues are in an “adaptive change moment” and showing “resilience.” We used our breakout sessions to reflect on and share the adaptive changes that have been made at our own synagogues. More specifically, we discussed what we did during the pandemic, and what we are doing post-pandemic.

Reflecting on the past three years seems to be on everyone’s mind lately. Just recently, The New York Times published a list of 17 cultural moments that captured everyone’s attention throughout the pandemic. One of my favorites was “Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems”, where the author/illustrator guided his audience through drawing one of his loveable characters. And, how about those TikTok Challenges? The New York Times called the app “the go-to destination for a generation that was spending their youth confined at home and just wanted to dance together.” The article also posed the question, What cultural artifact would you add to a Covid time capsule to let people in 100 years know what living through the pandemic felt like?

This leads me to ask all of you: What TBS moments from the pandemic would you put into a time capsule? Here is what I have so far:
1. Zoom services for all services.
2. Zoom Board of Directors and Committee meetings.
3. Laptops and cameras added for different points of views during services.
4. Screens added to the sanctuary for those in-person to see those on Zoom.
5. Passover Take-Out Dinner Boxes and the Zoom Passover 2nd Seder.
6. Social Distancing/Limited Seating for the High Holidays (including book distribution and collection).
7. Virtual Chanukah Celebration, plus Hanukkah Bags (Virtual activities included Latke Bingo, storytime, sing along, trivia, share your memories, scavenger hunt).
8. Virtual Shabbat Table.
9. Zoom discussion panels and co-sponsoring Zoom programs with other synagogues.
10. The start of the Beth Sholom Book Club.

Things are relatively calm now, and we can really see how the adaptive changes we began making since 2020 have created a positive impact on our synagogue.
1. We have become more innovative. We have been able to have a minyan for every morning, afternoon, Shabbat and Festival service because we count individuals on Zoom as part of the minyan. We have also been able to have speakers from out-of-state Zoom in for programs.
2. We have been inclusive. Our members who live out-of-state, full-time or part-time, or who are traveling near or far, are able to join Zoom for services. We have also had congregants’ families from other countries join Zoom to celebrate in simchas. In 2022, when we returned to in-person Passover 2nd seder, we still offered the option for families to Zoom from their seder at home. We have also been creating programming for all generations.
3. We have invited you to the free Simchat Torah and Purim Pasta Dinners, and the Latke Lunch. We have also invited you to participate in Friday Night Shabbat Services to recognize when you joined TBS (part of the Temple’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2021), and also your volunteer work with the different organizations at TBS (2022-2023).

With all of these wonderful changes we have made, how does TBS continue to remain resilient in the post-pandemic era? What will keep you invested in the synagogue? How can you be involved with the synagogue? Finally, what can we do to get you back into the synagogue?

Let me know how I can help in any way.

Lauren Piscitelle
TBS President
(To add a moment to the TBS Pandemic Moments list, send an email to president@tbshamden.com.)