July 2020                                                                                      23 Tamuz 5780

Dear Members and Friends,

I hope this letter finds you and all your loved ones safe and well.

I have been High Holiday chairperson for many years, but this year presented issues that we have never anticipated or experienced. No amount of planning could have prepared us for the COVID 19 pandemic. 

The High Holiday Committee usually meets this time of year to plan services for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  This year, we met to discuss the feedback from the member survey regarding how safe we feel about returning to the synagogue for services. Although there were many opinions, all of them emphasized our ability to keep everyone safe and well.  The High Holiday Committee supports this and, with an abundance of caution, we have concluded that for the first time in 90 years, in person services for the congregation will not be held in our Main Sanctuary.  Yes, we are talking about a virtual service.

Committees are now meeting to work out the logistics and the details of the “how,” but rest assured that both our Rabbi and Cantor will lead our services and broadcast by Zoom from the main sanctuary.  The MJC congregation will receive a Zoom invitation, as we do now for services Friday evenings, Saturdays and morning Minyan.

What will the service look like? The details will be worked out over the next few weeks, but the plan calls for only the Rabbi and Cantor to be at either end of the Bimah in the main sanctuary, on either side of the Aron Kodesh.  The Torahs will be visible and will remain in the Aron Kodesh. The Rabbi and Cantor will determine the prayers to be included and how long the services will be. Aliyot, Torah readings and Haftarot will be done from the comfort and safety of your homes.  

I would be remiss if I did not touch on the continued financial viability of Madison (I am now wearing my Treasurer’s hat). In the past, the income from the High Holidays accounted for nearly 15% of  MJC’s total yearly revenues. This year, as neither of our two tenants has paid their rent or expenses for several months, our current financial survival depends on you, our membership, and friends of MJC.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit us all hard. Continued support of MJC strengthens our community and that strength in turn, supports each of us.  If you are able, please either donate the same amount (or more) for your Kol Nidre and Yizkor pledges this year.  As we will not be in our building, the projected income from the sale of holiday seats will not be realized; High Holiday seats generated $120/seat.  This represents a huge loss of funding for MJC. I am asking you to give whatever you can for your virtual seats.

This year, Jews around the world have been participating in virtual services and celebrations. Your MJC virtual front row seat will allow you to safely enjoy services together with family and friends. “Qvell” with pride as you join your fellow congregants in traditional holiday services, as together you chant prayers, join in the performance of rituals, virtually open and close the ark, and listen to the Cantor singing familiar holiday tunes and the Rabbi’s inspirational sermons.  It’s the next best thing to being there!  

We are all obligated to make sure that this is not the last Holiday service Madison Jewish Center ever holds.    Help preserve the future.

 L’Dor V’Dor. From one generation to the next.

Shalom,

Paul Podell, Chair

High Holiday Committee