June 2023

Dear Friends,

I hope you have been able to enjoy the early summer — despite the challenges we faced a few weeks ago with the pollution from the Canadian wildfires. That brief return to remote work, closed playgrounds, the need for masks, and the shift to remote school all brought back memories of the confusion and trauma of the early pandemic. For many of us, the veil of hazy smoke over our beloved city echoed the days following 9/11. For others, the fires made only too real the dangers that climate change presents to us all. 

While the High Holy Days are almost three months away, the clergy and staff at Temple Emanu-El are already busy preparing for them. One theme of these Days of Awe will be Panim el Panim – Face to Face. This profound concept, inspired by the intimate relationship between God and Moses — as Torah tells us “Adonai would speak to Moses face to face” — calls upon us to come together as a community, to face one another with open hearts, truly to see ourselves and one another as God and Moses did, clearly and without barriers, and to embark on a collective journey of growth and transformation. The Holy Days also impel us to look within, to confront our shortcomings, to seek forgiveness from others and, when asked, to forgive them…and to forgive ourselves as well.

During the High Holy Days, we seek to cultivate the intimacy and feeling of holiness evinced in those Panim el Panim encounters. But we can’t do it without you! We hope to see your faces! While the services will be livestreamed, we hope you will choose to attend in person, if at all possible. As the temple’s activities have returned to normal this year, we were reminded that there is nothing as wonderful as being together Panim el Panim!

As the High Holy Days approach, we hope you will renew your commitment to our vibrant community. Together, we will again open our hearts to each other and the wider world.

Very truly yours,

Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson
Peter and Mary Kalikow Senior Rabbinic Chair