Wrapping Up The Holidays 5781: A Year Of Loss

Approaching candle-lighting time here in Jerusalem, it’s almost Shabbat and Shimini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (we celebrate both on one day here). First thing this morning, I awoke to learn than a former rabbinic student of mine had suddenly died. It was like being kicked in the stomach by a donkey.

Although it will “officially” be on Sunday, when it’s no longer chag here in Israel, in the galut Simchat Torah is Rabbi Shloime Twerski’s yahrzeit. He passed in 1981, 39 years, the majority of my lifetime, ago. I’ve grown used to the intense feeling of loss that starts to ramp up this time every year.

But there was no way I could prepare myself for this new loss.

And in many ways it seems so appropriate to this year, the Plague Year of Covid-19. This was a year where all Am Yisrael shared the loss of synagogues and, to a large degree,for many of us, even those living in the heart of Jerusalem, community for Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Here in Israel, in the midst of our second Corona Lockdown, those of us without our own Sukkah also missed out on the simple, subtle, intense pleasure of spending time, eating, drinking, entertaining, singing, sleeping in a Sukkah. Of course, this is following the year of no large family Seders for Pesach–those of us living alone, arranged our own, solo, Seder……

And so, bookended by loss, I’m left alone with God. That, however, is far from a bad thing. I must remind myself.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach

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