March 16, 2020, marks the day that our schools and buildings closed last year, and our lives were drastically changed by the reality of COVID-19 reaching Oregon. As the soundtrack of the musical “Rent” put it: “525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year?”
Living according to the Jewish calendar provides us with one answer to this question. We measure our year by completing the full cycle of holidays and Jewish rituals. Time and our need for our community and these rituals haven’t stopped in this year, even though so many of our usual ways of marking these holy moments have been interrupted.
Congregation Neveh Shalom has created a booklet offering four rituals to help mark the past year.
Introducing the rituals, the booklet notes: “As we approach the milestone of this unique and challenging year, we recognize that this year has encompassed deep loss and grief, innovation and resilience, as well as joy and hopefulness. In order to mark this moment, we invite you to explore the following pages (in booklet) and engage in any of the four rituals or blessings that speak to you during the anniversary week of the beginning of the pandemic.”
Lighting a yahrtzeit candle to remember a loved one or to recognize the grief we’ve held this year (page 4).
Shehechiyanu blessing: “We are grateful to be here at this time!” (page 5).
Rock Garden: Paint or decorate a rock with acrylic paint or sharpies with messages of hope, grief, a dedication to the memory of someone you lost this year or anything that speaks to you (page 6).
Short candlelighting on the Shabbat anniversary of the pandemic: Friday, March 19, 2021, at 6 pm on Zoom (page 7).
The booklet concludes with a pandemic poem by Alicia Jo Rabins entitled “Accidental Monks.”
The booklet was mailed to members of Congregation Neveh Shalom, but others are welcome to download the pdf at nevehshalom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Pandemic-Anniversary-Ritual-Booklet-FINAL-web.pdf