Wise Board Member Susan Berger offered a beautiful D’var Torah at the most recent Board meeting. We were all so moved by her beautiful commentary that we wanted to share it with the entire Wise community. We believe you’ll find comfort and meaning in Susan’s words as well.

Before I begin, I’d like you to close your eyes as I offer each of you this prayer:

Health before us
Health behind us
Health to the left of us
Health to the right of us
Health above us
Health below us
Health within us
Health surround us.

Over these past weeks, along with the Shema, I have said these words when I wake and when I go to sleep, when I panic and when I feel calm. Words that inspire, uplift and resonate within me and I’m sure, each of us.

Personally, these are words that have given me courage, even in this moment of ZoomSpeaking to all of you! In this time of uncertaintly, one thing is for certain and that is the fact that we are so blessed to be united, comforted, and sustained by the amazing clergy, staff, educators, board, congregants and community of Stephen Wise Temple.

When Janine Kolodny asked me to speak tonight, I flat out declined. I immediately questioned myself and went deep within to try and figure out how I could be so afraid of something so elementary at such a consequential time in our lives. Upon further introspection, I realized that I declined because of my fear of “unmasking” the vulnerabilities and emotions I am feeling right now.

After a brief pause, I realized that we are all experiencing similar emotions and perhaps fear. We all wear social masks that are being chipped away at. After recalibrating myself, I decided that I should look at this as a symbolic “computer reboot”. In fact, I challenge all of us to take this unprecedented moment in time to reboot. I have even taken the liberty to offer up a reboot of the Pirkei Avot and its focus on eternal values.

For if not now, when will we ever have the opportunity to break old patterns and habits?

If not now, when will we ever find creativity, spirituality, purpose and strength to model for future generations?

And, if not now, when will we ever be able to shift our mindsets from “survive” to “thrive”?

For me, this all came to light when I put my energy into planning a Zoom Seder that would be both traditional and non-traditional. I cooked, set the table, displayed the girls’ handmade Passover plates, Matzah covers, and decorated Haggadot and curated a revised “Zagaddah.” I even put on mascara! Even though Jon and I sat alone, we were together with our family and shared faith.

The themes of slavery, liberation, plagues and our own covenants with G-d took on new perspective and challenge. Buoyed by Rabbi Yoshi’s Dayeinu message, and bolstered by “The Passover Box of Questions”, I encouraged each of my family members to share their own Dayeinu moments. There was not a dry eye as my girls, nieces, sister, mom & significant others related their most raw, thought provoking, heartfelt, vulnerable and genuine sentiments. It was powerful and memorable. I only wish I thought to record it all!

Thank you for allowing me to share my story as we all hold on to “certainty” as we navigate this bridge of “uncertainty”. After all, as so eloquently stated by Rabbi Yoshi, we have been given the following certainties: the ability to hope, to dream, and to imagine a future when we can be together again… Dayeinu!