Wednesday, March 18, 2020

UPDATE: Shabbat Morning Service Online

As the curfews and other social distancing protocols increase in our area, I reach out to offer words of comfort and support.  As a caring and loving community, we will come through this together.  What follows is information about our Shabbat services online, and other important information.

First, please know that this is a human, global concern.  The tradition explains it with a story:  “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught: It can be compared to people who were in a boat and one of them took a drill and began to drill under his seat. His fellow passengers said to him: ‘why are you doing this!’ He said to them: ‘What do you care? Am I not drilling under me?’ They replied: ‘Because you are sinking the boat with us in it!’” (Vayikra Rabbah 4:6, ed. Margaliot, pp. 91-92). The entire world is in the same boat. If we do not help each other, we are in danger of sinking the entire boat. 

Second, please know that we are joining together online regularly now for all of our possible social needs during this time of distancing.  We are using for our online services, meetings and more. Please go to and sign up for a free account. 

All services, weekday and Shabbat, will be online until further notice, and yahrtzeits can be observed in this way. 

I will be hosting a zoom learning session this Thursday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m. to study the permitted use of electronics on Shabbat during this emergency.  (For those without Zoom, the call in is: 929-205-6099 Meeting ID 547-344-607).  Here are the links for services:
  • Follow this Weekday and Shabbat Evening Minyan Link link at 8:00 pm weekdays, or 6:00 pm on Fridays.  (For those without Zoom, the call in is: 929-205-6099 Meeting ID 304-491-162)
  • Follow this Weekday and Shabbat Morning Minyan Link 7:00 am for weekday services and the following Shabbat services:
  • Shabbat Morning Youth Services are from 10:00-10:30 a.m. (For those without Zoom, the call in is: 929-205-6099 Meeting ID 450-192-936).
  • Shabbat Morning Congregational Services are 10:45 am - 12:00 p.m.(For those without Zoom, the call in is: 929-205-6099 Meeting ID 450-192-936).
  • There will be no Shabbat minchah/havdalah online.
Third, we are calling the entire membership.  When a call comes from a member of B’nai Shalom, we are checking in to see how you are, because we care.  If you need help with a grocery run, pharmacy, or are just lonely tired or bored stuck in your house, we are happy to keep you company on the phone. If you need help with anything, please call the synagogue office at 973-731-0160 or Rabbi Tobin’s cell phone 973-518-3534.  We would love to help.  If you want to volunteer, please let us know.

Fourth, join in healing prayers.  In addition to everything the CDC is recommending from a science point of view, take a few moments for prayer.  If you, or someone you know, falls ill - consider adding them to our “misheberach prayers for healing” at minyan.  Email me at with your information, so I can join you in those prayers.

Fifth, we will not host a second night seder this year.  We will send an email regarding upcoming programs and events later this week, but in the meantime you should plan for as small a Pesach as you can consider.  While we won’t have a public seder, we are working on supporting those who normally come to us on the second night.

And finally, for now, it is a time for patience, calm and generosity. We will all be feeling the financial hardships and anxiety of the moment. But whatever you are facing, there will be so many more who are worse off than we are.  Consider supporting our efforts with a donation, or support the work of our local Jewish Federation,, Magen David Adom, or any of your favorite local, national, international and/or Israeli charitable organizations that address health, hunger and wellness. The need will only grow in the weeks ahead.

We don’t know yet when the Synagogue will begin to return to more normal activities.  Given the seriousness of the pandemic, we are not in a rush. And in the meantime, we will stay close as we care for each other in our sacred community.
Kol Tuv, ... all good things.

Rabbi Robert Tobin

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