To our dear Soul Center community,

I went to a wedding this week. And a bar mitzvah. And I caught the tail end of an outdoor gathering of our morning gratitude community (in real life! we all have legs and bodies outside of our faces in our Zoom box!). Things feel, a little bit, like they’re coming back.  I thought this feeling would have happened back in the summertime, but Delta reared its ugly head and forced us to take two steps back. So, I’m cautiously optimistic that we might actually venture out for real.  Which, of course, has me wondering about communal gatherings in general. Why do we need them? When do we need them? What did I miss about them? What makes some feel special and others just feel perfunctory or obligatory?

I will tell you that I loved being out with people this week. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it had something to do with basking in other people’s joy. That feeling…catching someone else’s joy…is very hard to do virtually. Being able to hold space for someone else in their pain or grief is also super hard to do through a screen. I have missed the feeling of being interconnected to others (outside of the people who live inside my home). It’s the energy you catch from being around someone (can you tell I’m an ENTJ) that makes the idea of community so compelling to me.

When Abraham set out on his journey, as he did in this past week’s Torah portion, did he know he was setting out to create an entire community? He didn’t have the opportunity to bask in someone else’s joy. Other than being with God, he was pretty much all alone, with only his faith to guide him. Abraham was a complex character, full of flaws. But tonight as I write this message, I am full of gratitude for this guy, our ancestor, who answered his calling to create a people.  Did Abraham envision a couple standing under the chuppah in the Soul Center, or a bar mitzvah in a suburban synagogue? I think not. But I’m grateful for the spark that started it all.

As we begin to contemplate how and when and why we gather, and what makes it worth it, I’d like to suggest that you do a little internal test after each community gathering and just check in with yourself. How did that feel to you? Is your spirit a little more uplifted from the experience? If not, why not? Let’s start to build back the type of community and communal gatherings that help us all feel a little more interconnected to one another. I’ll show up for that!

Soulfully yours,

Rachel Siegal

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