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Temple Beth El

Offering Conservative Jewish worship since 1935

83 Chestnut Street/POBox 383
Oneonta, NY 13820
Phone: (607) 432-5522

President’s Column — March 2021

The Stories We Tell Matter

This past week my son Ed, who lives in Houston, Texas, experienced a few catastrophic days as Houston was engulfed in a cold snap and snowstorm. He was without power and water for two and a half days. (Oh, that first shower must have felt good.) Others in Houston experienced those primitive conditions for even longer. Of course, I was concerned for his health and general safety. But, when we spoke on his dying cell phone, his attitude surprised me. It was one of resilience and strength. He laughed at all the mishaps he has experienced since living in Houston. First it was a flood, then a hurricane or two, and now a snowstorm in a place that usually records seventy-degree temperatures in the winter. He has survived and is stronger because of those experiences.

We at TBE have been forced to experience a memorable time during the pandemic. We have had to make drastic changes to how we practice our Judaism. When we look back on this time, what will be the story we tell? What will be our attitude towards it? Rather than dwell on what we missed I hope we can remember rising to the challenges. Maybe thinking of lighting our Chanukah candles together on a Zoom call will bring a twinkle to our eyes. Maybe dressing up for Purim like we were on television instead of just a Zoom meeting, will make us laugh. We can reframe the pandemic story as one of creativity and conquering challenges instead of a relentless, grim disaster to be endured.

At the end of this month, we will tell the story of Passover. It begins on the evening of Saturday, March 27 and ends on Sunday, April 4. This is one of our seminal stories. It matters how we tell it. It matters that we tell it every year. I invite you to enjoy Passover while still practicing social distancing. Tell the story well.

I hope to see you soon in person. I wonder what stories you will have to tell me.