Synagogue Ohev Shalom of Bucks County has responded to the Coronavirus crisis in unique and inspiring ways.
As are many religious institutions, the synagogue is using the Zoom platform for weekday and Sabbath worship. Working from their homes, Ohev Shalom synagogue clergy and lay leaders have decided to expand outreach via a variety of communication and social media platforms to ensure all members of the synagogue’s community are heard from and cared for during these difficult times.
Rabbi Eliott Perlstein meets with congregants on Tuesday afternoons for a Zoom Torah discussion and for virtual coffee and conversation on Thursday afternoons. Cantor Annelise Ocanto-Romo and son join parents and children on Zoom every Wednesday morning for Circle Time. On Wednesday afternoons Cantor hosts a sing-along.
On Friday morning, Director of Education, Barbara Glickman hosts a Facebook Live story time. Havdalah services are shared with the synagogue community, also through Facebook Live, Saturday evening from the home of Cantor Ocanto-Romo.
Anticipating the shutdown we now face, Education Director Glickman and the Ohev faculty planned for and were ready for an early transition to web-based Hebrew School classes. Parent, Kari Spivak, conveys the enthusiasm faculty, students, and parents have for this new way to study and learn: “Big thanks to Ohev Shalom and its teachers for making these unforeseen circumstances seamless for our children! Facetiming with the students keeps them connected to our incredible Ohev Shalom family.”
Even more ways to keep connected are happening at the now virtual Ohev Shalom. A weekly Noon Zoom, hosted by Building Supervisor, Hilary Leboff, gives congregants an opportunity to chat and share in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. On Monday afternoons, Glickman will host Hebrew Through Movement for all ages. The synagogue’s Caring Committee will be regularly reaching out by telephone to those congregants who may be alone and/or aren’t able or willing to connect digitally to the surrounding community. “During this challenging time, Ohev Shalom of Bucks County’s commitment to Inclusion B’Kavod (inclusion with respect) is more relevant and important than ever. With our virtual programming we continue to ensure that all members of our congregation are able to participate meaningfully, educationally, and spiritually,” states congregant and board member Lindsay Miller.
“In this time of isolation, people need the loving support of their religious community” explains Rabbi Perlstein. “While our building is closed, our hearts are open to caring and supporting each other.”