Dear CBST Members and Friends,
!הַיּוֹם הֲרַת עוֹלָם Hayom harat olam! Today the world was born! We joyfully proclaim this every year on Rosh Hashanah. Each year we acknowledge the fragility of life, and the mysteries of the universe.
“Human beings are from dust and to dust we will each return.” We recite these words each year on Yom Kippur – and each year we are reminded of the depth of that truth. None of us knows the date of our death, ultimately we only have control over what we do with each day we are given to live.
The months of the COVID-19 virus, the deaths, the illnesses, the lockdowns, the fear and anxiety have reminded us of the fragility of life. And the deep acts of generosity, and humanity expressed daily by our community have reminded us of the best of humanity and the power of the Holy One’s presence even in times of pain.
We have seen hundreds of Congregants volunteer as CBST Connectors, calling every week or month to check in on each other, hundreds of people taking dozens of classes, learning Hebrew for the first time, studying Talmud, Psalms, t’filot, Yiddish Literature, Torah cantillation. We have celebrated b*mitzvah, weddings, conversions, baby namings, weddings, observed funerals, shiva minayim, memorial services – all on Zoom.
We learned much as a community from AIDS and those lessons served us well as a congregation in this pandemic – and with COVID also came a resurgence of racial injustice, xenophobia, deep political rifts, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and homophobia.
Our immigration clinic doubled in size helping over a dozen gain asylum status – most of them LGBTQ+ and/or HIV positive. Our clinic is the largest pro se legal immigration clinic in any synagogue in America.
Since our founding in 1973, CBST has been an act of social justice opening our doors every day to those of us who were beaten, rejected, and hated for being LGBTQ+. In 1973, not a single Jewish organization, or synagogue or Jewish religious leader said we were equal human beings in the law or in the eyes of God or the Jewish community.
We welcome immigrants, stand with all peoples of all races, cherish transgender youth and adults, and remain strong, proud, and grateful for our diversity. With you, those values were unshaken this year.
For these High Holy Days, we invite you to join us in prayer online from your home, and for Tashlich in person. We look forward to welcoming 5782 with you.
הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ ה' אֵלֶיךָ וְנָשׁוּבָה, חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם Hashiveinu Adonai Elecha v’nashuva, chadesh yameinu k’kedem. Help us to turn and return to you Holy One and we will be renewed.
A Sweet and Healthy New Year to you!
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum