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Updates from Ellen Botwin, Executive Director

It has been a pleasure working with the cast and crew of our Broadway Revue. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, we were stopped in our tracks. However, nothing gets us down so we found a way to "get the message out" by creating videos to make you laugh, make you think, entertain you and remind you that we are all in this together. Here are three of the songs we were able to put together for you

Parody of "Do You Love Me' from Fiddler on the roof...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uTuapnEkrw

Cantor and Ellen Sing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah...https://youtu.be/9iJqxPQwcUM

Some of the Cast of the Broadway Revue sing "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen...https://youtu.be/yv_TA2PujaY

August 2, 2020

We've begun services on Friday night outdoors and it is sometimes difficult to get a minyan. I'm not sure if it's because people are still uncomfortable or if it is unbearably hot... maybe a combination of both. I have worked in the Synagogue environment for over 25 years and what I've learned is that you just can't make everyone happy.  We can take survey after survey, we can try to give everyone what they want and it still won't work.  I guess it's human nature.  

One day after the email went out about HH services (mentioning we'd have 30-50 people in the sanctuary), I got a call from a member complaining that COVID was on the rise and that we were making a huge mistake having people indoors. Less than a half hour later, I got another call from another member asking why it was only 30-50 people since the sanctuary could easily hold 100 safely distanced.  You just can't win. Oh well.

But we still try.  We still meet and try to make sense of this ever changing world.  I do think people are tiring of chatting on zoom. I do think people want to "get together" face to face. I know I do.  So, I meet with friends in back yards and in drive-ways and porches. We don't hug anymore (very sad). At least it's something.  I'll have a table with unopened bottles of water, soda, Snapple and individually wrapped treats because everyone has their own "schtick" when it comes to feeling safe and I try to pass no judgement. I will even let them use the bathroom.  Personally, I think it's unreasonable to have people over and forbid them from using the bathroom.  I'm happy we're together. 

On Friday, August 7th we're having our first parking lot dinner. I hope enough people come. Of course we will take very precaution. Each family will have a table and the tables will be safely distanced, but within earshot so chatting can take place. We've had many outdoor events, but nothing like this. The food will be delivered in sealed bags marked for each family. There will be no buffet, no BBQ, nothing like our past outdoor picnics and block parties. Baby steps. 

I am working from home and in the office.  Time has become very fluid.  I often come downstairs at 7:30 in the morning, pour myself a cup of coffee and start answering work emails.  I may do the very same thing at 9:00 at night.  Fluid and ever changing. I have given many of you my cell phone number because I don't want you to think I am unavailable.  I come into the office at least 2 days a week, more often 3.  As of Monday, August 3rd, the office will be fully covered 5 days a week.  Slowly things are getting back to "normal".  The main message I'd like to impart is that we are here for you. We are doing everything we can to continue to bring you services, programs, events, classes and hope. The building is still not open to anyone other than employees, but that doesn't mean that we can't meet outside.  I have had meetings with members, outside of the social hall (in the alley). Jose puts up a table with chairs and we sit and discuss business.  It's shaded so it's not bad at all! When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!

June 22, 2020

Hello everyone!  I hope you are all doing well!  Have you noticed how our vocabulary is now changing and how "social distance" is now used as a verb, noun, adverb?  What about Zoom?  Same thing, right?  Although I imagine when Xerox came out, the same thing rang true.  Xerox was a brand, but then it became a verb! In three months our world changed. We found ways to communicate without actually getting near one another.  We stepped up and reached out to those in need more than ever before. Online ordering became the norm.  Going to stores... almost obsolete. Although personally speaking, I hope not.  I absolutely have to try on clothing before buying.  I can taken in 8 pairs of pants and buy two (If I am lucky).  If I had to order online...my life would be taken over by returning stuff! Not for me.!  

Yesterday, I ventured into Kohl's as I had a return and I didn't want to spend the $5.00 to mail it back.  This is a smaller Kohl's in East Windsor. It was not crowded, everyone wore masks, there was hand sanitzer to use and no one got "in your space". I was like a kid in a candy store!  I went to every rack marked 85% off... even the ones for which I had no need!  I couldn't help it! AND...when I got to the cashier, she took another 30% off!  I thought I was on Candid Camera... AND... I had a $10.00 Kohl's Cash reward! Honestly, sometimes I think they pay me to shop! 

For those of you venturing out, I hope you are keeping safe and being smart.  It seems to be that in some states there is a resurgence of COVID, especially among the under 40 crowd.  This is quite the shame.  It's one thing not to worry about your own health, but what about the people around you?  Your children, your parents, your grandparents?  Someone's got to tell these people that it is not "about them" but about everyone they may come into contact with. 

We're getting closer to opening the Synagogue (or at least the parking lot) to services and programs.  We will only do this when we deem it safe not only medically, but from a security standpoint.  I know many of you want to get back into your normal Synagogue routine.  We understand. Be patient. It will happen.  In the meanwhile, we will continue to offer our education classes, services and programs online via Zoom.  Our preschool is opening in September.  Many new restrictions and rules have been set in place and we will be adhering to all of them.  Because our class size cannot exceed more than 10 children, we will soon be closed out! If you are considering sending your child to the EBJC Center for Early Learning, please reach out to Lynda sooner rather than later.  She'll be happy to share with you what we are doing to ensure the health and safety of your children.

May 2020

One of the things I enjoy about our "zoom" services is that we don't live stream it. By using Zoom, we make it interactive and are able to give members the opportunity to participate as if they were being called up for an honor.  That's special. It always presents an organizational and logistical challenge but it is worth it!  I also enjoy the "shout outs" at the end, where we are all "unmuted" and we take the time to say hello to everyone and see how we're all doing.  It eases the separation anxiety a bit!

I've been working from home 3-4 days per week and I have found that it's not so bad.  There were many days where I worked in the office for a 12 hour day because of meetings that start at 8:30pm.  They still start at 8:30pm, but now I don't have to "stay in the office" and drive 30-40 minutes to get home!  There's something to be said about being able to throw in a load of laundry while you're working.  Of course, I miss the daily interactions with members that just stop in to say hello.  That was sort of special to me.

On the other hand... no make up!! Why bother putting on make up if you're covering your face?  Of course the down side is that I don't recognize anyone.  I've been to ShopRite and twice walked right by people I know.  That's sort of embarrassing.  Then there's what to wear while you're working at home!  I do not work in pajamas!   But if I am to be completely honest, I will wear my exercise clothes - stretch pants and oversize t-shirt...I'd never wear that to work if I was actually leaving the house! 

My hair has taken on a life of it's own.  Although I can get away with a lot because my hair is curly, I've pretty much taken to wearing a high pony tail (piled on top of my head) because I just can't be bothered.  Oh dear...

I wonder what the women who get their nails done every two weeks are doing. Especially if they get tips or gels.  I started enjoying getting a pedicure every month, but feet are sort of easy to hide and I can do my own tootsies.  The nails on your hands are a bit more difficult to hide and who wants to wear gloves in the summer? I think hair and nail salons will be the busiest businesses once allowed to open.

We are hoping to soon have parking lot events where we can gather for prayer and fun social events (socially distanced).  As soon as the logistics can be determined, we'll let you know!

Tue, September 29 2020 11 Tishrei 5781