Seasons to Gather

by Greg Rasin and Cameron Koffman

Temple members, Gather Guides

I

t was March 10th, a cold day filled with apprehension as the COVID-19 pandemic began to grip the country. We were scheduled to hold our second monthly Gathers. Out of an abundance of caution, at the last minute we changed the meetings from in-person to conference calls.  We discussed the latest in Current Events including Joe Biden’s strong showing on Super Tuesday. At that point, with a global pandemic looming and Gather groups that had only met in person once, it seemed that our trial run with Gather would not last.

The Temple started Gather last winter to create smaller communities within our majestic congregation of over 2,000 families. The goal was for small groups of congregants to bond and develop friendships over a common interest and thus develop a greater affinity for the Temple. We eagerly took the opportunity to participate.  Together we started a Current Events group that would meet for an hour every month to discuss the latest news. We hoped to learn from the many different perspectives of members and to build some friendships along the way.

It turned out that many congregants felt the same way.  There was so much demand to join the current events group that we had to create two separate groups of 12. After some meticulous planning, our groups met in February at Greg’s apartment. Both groups immediately clicked as people enjoyed meeting fellow congregants in a friendly setting and exchanging thoughts about current events. However, the future of the groups looked bleak as our second meetings could not take place in person due to the pandemic. Could a group that had only met in-person once survive amidst the stress of a global pandemic? The answer turned out to be a resounding yes.  Our Gathers are still thriving today, stronger than ever.

Over the spring and summer we met on Zoom with great discussions getting more robust each month.  There was certainly no shortage of topics.  Members also started communicating outside of the Gather about their lives and developed genuine friendships. Members attended virtual programming together at the Princeton Club and Hunter’s Roosevelt House, discussed New York politics, and turned to each other for support when in need. It turned out that in a time of such dark isolation, Gather provided a beacon of light to members looking for meaningful human connection.

Although 50 years apart in age, the two of us have developed an unlikely friendship as a result of Gather. It is amazing that the Temple could foster an opportunity for such intergenerational bonding in a time where it is harder than ever to meet new people.

We urge you all to join a Gather. The iconic Seasons of Love from the Broadway musical Rent defines a year as 525,600 minutes. If you invest just 720 of those minutes, or merely 60 minutes a month, we are confident that your reward will far exceed your investment.  As with seasons of love, every season is a season to Gather.

Interested in Gather?

Rabbi Sara Sapadin would be happy to answer your questions — email