Dear Congregation Beth Israel Members and Friends,

Back in June, when I landed in the hospital after my heart attack, CBI president Natalie Matus and I joked that if there were ever a “best” time for a rabbi to get a heart attack, Shavuot was the right time of year. “Imagine if this had happened just before the Days of Awe,” she said, and we laughed. Now, of course, I don’t have to imagine it. This isn’t a heart attack, it’s “just” Covid, but it has thrown a stick into the works and upended months of heartfelt planning.

I have reluctantly accepted that I won’t be able to be onsite at CBI during Rosh Hashanah. I’ve been so looking forward to co-leading prayer with cantorial soloist Ziva Larson, collaborating with them, singing duets – plus singing with our new choir, with which we rehearsed all summer! But doctors agree that “pushing through” Covid fatigue is unwise. Right now my spiritual curriculum is to listen to my body and to rest – even though I truly and deeply want to be at CBI. 

Fortunately, I know that you’re in good hands, and Rosh Hashanah will be beautiful. My current hope is to participate in Rosh Hashanah via Zoom. On Erev Rosh Hashanah I’ll lead parts of our Zoom seder with Rabbi David Markus, and the TBE and CBI community. On Rosh Hashanah mornings, cantorial soloist Ziva Larson will lead davenen from the bimah with support from our choir and others. I hope to take part via Zoom from home as I am able.

And if I don’t feel up to that, you’ll still hear my voice in a few places – and hopefully will feel the presence of my blessings and good wishes for all of you, which I am sending your way even now. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to rejoin everyone onsite at the shul on Yom Kippur. For now, I’m resting at home, and feeling profound gratitude to everyone at CBI who is working to make these High Holidays as beautiful and meaningful as can be. 

Wishing all of you a good and sweet year –

Rabbi Rachel