That phrase, a new normal, is one we often associate with some life-altering illness or enduring circumstances, yes, like the COVID pandemic that has upended the global community. But today, as we look forward, I think we can agree that our new normal offers new opportunities and redeeming features. Ultimately, I believe there will be even more to surprise and delight us.
Look at what has occurred in our little synagogue. In 2020 alone, we have 17 new members. Consider that for the past 10 months, we have been operating exclusively in a virtual reality. We see each other in a little square on a computer screen. Some of our new members never have been inside our synagogue building, and have seen our beautiful sanctuary only online. Also in 2020, the High Holidays Matching Gift Campaign has raised almost five times the revenue of the previous year. That represents 83 donors. In the fundraising arena, that is a staggering number that represents almost 75% of our population. And the campaign is still not closed.
And consider this: attendance is up at every service. The Friday night Shabbat service? Robust attendance. A minyan for the Saturday Torah service from the sanctuary? No problem now. The Zoom platform loves Rabbi Gadi, and our members and guests respond to the warmth of his services. Every time we learn about a congregant’s skill or interest, another Lunch and Learn program takes shape. Even the Shul Schmooze is more entertaining than ever, thanks to new contributors. We even turned a recent snowstorm into an opportunity to connect with our members by activating our telephone chain to check on people isolated in their homes.
A new normal is the tactic of our time. And we are riding the wave with a renewed sense of optimism and a vision for our future. It is only our limitations that we cannot envision.
—Judith K. Weiner