Today is May 22, 2024 -

Congregation Sha'arey Israel

A Conservative Jewish Congregation serving the spiritual needs of the Middle Georgia Jewish community since 1904

611 First Street, Macon, GA 31201
Phone: (478) 745-4571

Rejoicing in the Midst of Chaos & Misery?!

As I write these words Purim — the great celebration of the tables turned on our foes — is
just a couple of weeks ahead. And at the same time, we’re witnessing the Covid numbers
dropping precipitously, enabling those who have been vaccinated to emerge from this two-
year pandemic paralysis. No, it’s not quite over, but we’ve turned a corner. Great news,

And at the same time — Russia has viciously attacked its neighbor, and this is anything but
an obscure border skirmish. The repercussions that are already registering here will
intensify. Even before this calamitous development, our daily news consumption was quite
daunting. “Doom-scrolling” takes a toll on you after awhile.

First things first
You can make a donation to Federation toward alleviating the suffering for people in the
Ukraine. It may surprise you to learn that Federation and other mitzvah-work institutions
have been working in the Ukraine for quite some time. To put it succinctly: We have many
brothers and sisters there who are suffering.

Some good news to share
Daybreak hosted its ninth annual sleep-out, a very successful fundraiser. Our shul has
been supporting their efforts for several years — they do sacred work. Not long now from
the space that was used for setting up tents will become a construction site, and Daybreak
will be able to seriously expand upon their work here in Macon. Kudos to David and Laura
Ilan for keeping our Kehillah aware of and connected to Daybreak’s mission!

It’s about joy and faith and perseverance. Our shul’s last hurrah — a sanctuary filled with
revelers, singers, musicians, joyful noise — happened right before everything closed up.
The last two years have been devastating on many levels, and the hyper-politicized culture
wars have seriously compromised the spiritual cohesion of communities around the
country and beyond. Including here at home. Zoom? Depending upon who who ask, you’ll
hear everything from elation to frustration. In our home, davenning via zoom allows
Sharona to feel supported as she recites Kaddish. I see firsthand the way this bolsters
many other folks in the same situation. Our own community includes book club, Torah
study, and prayer from Massachusetts to Memphis to Boynton Beach. And that is a
blessing. And what about shul? We have a beloved building that calls to us. We can eat
together again. We’re not 100% back to normal by any means, but but we’re making

The Hassidic master Reb Nachman of Bratzlav (in the Ukraine, by the way) declared: It’s a
great mitzvah to be joyous! Mitzvah g’dolah lihyot b’simcha. Very challenging declaration
— How does one pull it off? How do we dig deep and discover joy in the midst of upheaval
and turmoil and tragedy? It is not easy. But we shouldn’t cancel joy. We need each other’s
presence, and we need the soul-medicine of smiles and laughter. This year’s Purim will
also feel the looming shadows of war in addition to all the noise that isolates and divides
us. But I must urge you to remember that we need Purim, that we need each other, that
our building at First & Plum isn’t just a building. It’s a holy place. Not just because of Torah
scrolls and holy books, but because it’s connected to all of us.