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Marty’s Shabbat Message – March 26, 2020

Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),

By now we are all adjusting to the “new normal” — spending most or all of our time in our homes, working at home and changing the way we entertain ourselves.

If I told you one month ago you couldn’t go out to the movies, that all three major professional sports would be shut down, that you couldn’t go out to eat, or even sit at a Starbucks, go to a bookstore, get your hair done, and had to wait on line to enter a grocery store, you would have said I was insane. If I had told you it would feel like winning the lottery if you were able to purchase toilet paper or rubbing alcohol, or that the stock market would lose over a third of its value in a few short weeks, you would have called the paddy wagon for me. But that’s all come to pass.

As I adjust to my own new normal, I have been thinking a lot about my grandparents and my father during the time of the Holocaust. Clearly, thank G-d, we are not living under those conditions. A few scraps of food per day, inadequate clothing, typhoid etc. I have recently been reading the books “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” and “Cilka’s Journey.” I don’t think I have ever been able to really relate to what these relatives of ours were actually experiencing. For the first time I feel a bit more in touch with them. Imagine what it must have been like to be Anne Frank and her family hiding in that attic. I repeat, we are experiencing nothing even remotely close to what they had to go through, but for the first time I am getting a better understanding of what having one’s life disrupted actually feels like.

So we really do need to appreciate the pleasures that are available to us even in these strange days. BBYO is a source for some of that Jewish comfort.

There is no asking for money. No budget analysis. No medical or economic commentary. Just some news to make you feel good.

Over the past two weeks, BBYO quickly transitioned from an event-driven organization to an organization focused exclusively on connectivity. Two weeks ago they launched BBYO On Demand, a 24/7 virtual hub where any Jewish teen can create or participate in learning sessions, podcasts, talk shows, and games. The press has called it “Jewish Netflix for live-streamed programming.”
BBYO On Demand’s first-ever Virtual Shabbat already took place. Hundreds of teens from Russia, Israel, and countries in between welcomed Shabbat using a worldwide virtual platform that didn’t exist just one week earlier. After a tough couple of weeks, to say this was an inspiring and hopeful experience is an understatement.

What followed was BBYO Global Havdalah bringing together the young, and the young at heart, in song and joy. BBYO On Demand showcases the power of our global movement through the power of connectivity, demonstrating that creativity, innovation and speed are who we are. So, nothing is canceled—we’re simply putting all the best that BBYO has to offer online. I hope you’ll join us this weekend!

This week’s Torah portion is Vayikra (and He called), the first chapter in the book of Leviticus. The third book in the five books of Moses. In it, G-d calls to Moses in the “Tent of Meeting.” For those of us who believe that G-d is always speaking with us, this is a time to recommit our trust in him. There is an awful lot of fear out there, anxiety, and depression too. We each find our ways to cope. One way I am coping is by continuing my dialogue with my maker. If you are feeling overwhelmed by fear, anxiety or depression, I hope you will reach out to me. I and the Jewish Federation are here to help, day or night, along with our partner organizations that have boots on the ground. I can be reached at 480.886.9009, day or night.

Light candles on Friday at 6:27pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday at 7:23pm.
I wish you a safe and healthy Shabbos.

Marty Haberer
President & Chief Executive Officer

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