Scroll through any newspaper from yesterday, and you will see similar headlines: “Pandemic: One Year In.” Nicholas Goldberg of The Los Angeles Times describes his return to the office after 365 days away: “My glasses were still sitting by the phone, and a legal pad was open, as if I had just stepped out for lunch.” The same sentiment occurred month after month at Sinai Temple. For months, the sanctuary remained in the exact configuration as we left it, the same pew bulletin from March 2019.
Most striking was the Sinai Temple Sisterhood Gift Shop. Each holiday brings a revolving door of ritual items: menorahs for Hanukkah, apple jars for Rosh Hashanah, and graggers for Purim. Yet, during this past year, the gift shop had remained with its Passover products ready for sale. During the summer, you saw Seder plates. In the fall, the Seder plates remained, and in the winter, the Seder plates never left.
Now, we are back to spring. Passover is just weeks away, and the Seder plates have not left the gift shop windows.
We all have grown a year older, and the Seder plates remain the same.
This is Shabbat HaChodesh, the Shabbat that welcomes in the month of Nisan, the Shabbat that welcomes in a rebirth to the people of Israel, and this year, God willing, a rebirth of the world.
Our tradition is ripe with language and symbolism of rebirth. We went form slavery to freedom, and we have gone from exile to build a place called home. As we welcome in this new month, may we always remember this year. When I walk into Sinai Temple today, I will see those same Seder plates. Those plates have been crying out to us all year: “Don’t leave me any longer. Come back to me.”
At the end of each Seder, we say the words, “l’shana habah biyerushalayim habnuyah,” not simply Jerusalem, but rather a Jerusalem rebuilt with our own hands, with our own actions, with our own hearts and souls.