Riding the Wave (Roller Coaster?) into 5781

As we emerge on the other side of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I want to pause for a moment to reflect on how truly remarkable this community is that we have built together!

As we emerge on the other side of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I want to pause for a moment to reflect on how truly remarkable this community is that we have built together!

We all know that the past year has been quite a roller coaster! Jewish calendar year 5780 began, last fall, with Kavana's communal B'nai Mitzvah celebration, followed soon after by the unveiling of a new strategic plan to guide our future growth. Then, as we all know all too well, as Purim approached, our world turned completely upside down. Overnight, our ability to gather in groups for face-to-face interaction -- something that has been a cornerstone of Kavana since day one -- disappeared.

I am incredibly proud of the ways that Kavana has pivoted since the spring to support our community during this time of radical transition. As we shifted existing programs to online platforms, connected individuals with one another, and created new touch-points during an otherwise isolating chapter, Kavana's core purpose remained intact, and our creativity and nimble nature shone!

Now, as we exit a High Holiday season like none we've ever experienced before, a couple of things are crystal clear. First, Kavana's sense of purpose and our core values have remained constant throughout this whole roller-coaster ride. That is clear in our newest Annual Report (for Fiscal Year 2020 - July 2019 through June 2020), which walks readers through the "before" and "after" Covid chapters of the past year. If Kavana is important to you, please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the contents of this Annual Report here, and also with our 2025 Strategic Plan.


Second, Kavana is a cooperative community, in that we've always believed that dynamic Jewish life "takes a village" to build. The High Holidays have always been a team effort, of course, but never has this felt more true to me than in this strange year, where we really had to reinvent the wheel in so many ways in order to make the holidays meaningful and real in this new Covid-era context.

As such, I would especially like to thank the individuals listed below -- a few staff members and many, many volunteers, listed in alphabetical order -- who played one (or perhaps several!) of the following critical roles in order to make our High Holiday season possible:

  • assembled or delivered holiday bags to Kavana partners
  • led a service
  • served as a Zoom host
  • served as an online greeter
  • blew shofar -- either during Elul, on Rosh Hashanah and/or at the end of Yom Kippur
  • hosted a shofar-in-the-park site
  • taught a group of families or youth
  • led a yoga, art or journaling workshop
  • taught a class
  • played Kol Nidre on cello!
  • introduced Torah readings
  • read Torah
  • recited aliyah blessings
  • chanted haftorah
  • served as a reader during a service
  • organized teen activities for your peers
  • designed High Holiday materials
  • drafted confirmation emails and organized information.

Cara Abrams, Tony Abrams, Maxine Alloway, Deb Arnold, Jessica Aronson, Ravit Aviram, Aaron Averbuch, Joelle Averbuch, Yuli Basinski, Lynn Baum, Stephen Baum, Joan Beard, Adriane Berman, Alice Berman, Dana Bettinger, Anna Boiko-Weyrauch, Rachel Brinn, Brielle Bush, Chuck Cowan, Bram Duchovnay, Josh Elkin, Judy Elkin, Ingrid Elliott, Rebecca Finkel, Danyel Fisher, Oren Fix, Emily Fox, Rachel Fyall, Talia Gosline, Carlos Guestrin, Diane Hostetler, Sonia Jaffe, Tabatha Jensen, Becca Kaplan, Julie Katz, Mindy Katz, Russ Katz, Marla Kaufman, Joe Kaufman, Julie Kohl, Sondra Kornblatt, Dahlia Kupfer, Mikael Kvart, Barry Lasky, Stacy Lawson, Suzi LeVine, Talia LeVine, Ronnie Levitt, Sharon London, Traci Marx, Charles Mayer, Sydney Mayer, Robin McQuinn, Lizzi Meister, Chava Mirel, Chava Monastersky, Margaret Montsaroff, Stephen Montsaroff, Yuie Monstaroff, Rachel Nagorsky, Zoe Natkin, Jacob Nussbaum, Bev Osband, Yona Pianko, John Policar, Rebecca Polivy, Scott Porad, Eli Pristoop, Eli Reich, Aviva Richman, Briana Romancier, Shoshi Rosenzweig, Helene Russ, Sam Ruzumna, Nicki Sadow-Hasenberg, Noah Sarkowsky, Robin Schachter, Miriam Shames, Avi Shapiro, Meryl Schenker, Asher Seibel, Eric Seibel, Jane Seibel, Linda Shwab, Hava Sprung, and Abbe Stashower. (Apologies in advance if we have inadvertently left any names off this list. We are grateful to everyone who played a key role in making these holidays happen!)

If you attended any part of Kavana's High Holidays, I want to thank YOU, too, for joining us and helping to make them so meaningful. Of course, as you know, so much about this year was new and experimental, so we'd especially love to hear your feedback -- please click here to share what worked for you and how we could improve on our High Holiday experience.

If we have to be stuck on a roller coaster this year, at least we can take comfort in the fact that we're in great company! Thank you for being part of this very special community, as we navigate all of life's twists and turns together. Here's to a smoother ride in 5781.

Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum