In this week’s Torah portion, Lech L’cha, God tells a young Abraham “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and it shall be blessing.” (Gen. 12:2)
Throughout the portion, an emphasis is on how “great” of a nation we will be: abundance will be in land, in population, and a rich heritage. I absolutely love that God has Abraham gaze upon the stars as his inspiration for how numerous we would be as a people. This endless feeling of abundance of heritage is represented by the vastness of the stars.
Over the pandemic, we have been able to count our “stars” in person. I am so happy that we have returned to live worship, in person, but our attendance is easily countable and not more than 30 on a regular Friday night Shabbat. I do long for the times when we were together in the sanctuary in full, uncountable numbers, singing loudly, unmasked as the vastness of the sky.
What God may have realized is that through technology at KI, we are still able to reach the vastness of the heavens. Over the High Holy Days, between in person and online, our attendance was higher than before the pandemic! We have had worshippers from all over the world including such countries as Germany, Israel, and England!
We started out in the realm of technology like Abram started out from Canaan. We had no idea that our ability to reach our people could extend beyond the sanctuary walls. With the help of many generous donors, we reconstructed the sanctuary to include screens and cameras, thus opening the window to reaching beyond our small universe of 8339 Old York Road.
Within the sanctuary our prayers became illuminated with visual tefillah, and thanks to the Marcia & Walter Rosen Technology Fund, created by our members, Marcia & Walter Rosen, we received equipment that could engage us within the sanctuary and beyond. JQuest uses our new technology; we taught our students how to create visual tefillah and bring video into our spaces and our sacred moments.
Through the generosity of our congregants, Ellen and Jeffrey Plaut, we are expanding our technology to include equipment that will allow both in-person and virtual attendance at meetings and programs.
Without our technology, we would have been isolated throughout the pandemic. Our synagogue acquired streaming software, sound and video equipment, so that your worship experience could feel as close as your own living room. We kept our quality high and artistic. At some point, we felt that there was MORE we could do to feel like the stars in the heaven . . . by using our drone and technology.
Together with all this new technology and the ability to stream, thanks to the Charlotte and Jerry New Streaming Fund, and donors like you, we are able to reach many of our congregants that are not able to attend services/programs in person.
Each of these families has demonstrated a vision for ways to meet the needs of our community. We are grateful for their generosity.
We are currently working on finding the support of someone with the ability of running our equipment during services and events. The reason we are looking is because Richard Meyer, our Sound/Video/Radio/Streaming Engineer for 50+ years, is retiring so that he can focus on his health and his family. We are grateful for Richard’s tireless efforts and his countless hours of service to KI.
At present, there are Shabbats when I have had the challenge of running the service, the visuals, the sound, and the streaming-all at once, and while I am proud of my abilities, we definitely need to consider our priorities in the area of technology. We appreciate your generosity and support for the continuity of these funds, especially now.
Let us keep ourselves as numerous as the stars in the heaven through the blessings of technology!
Cantor Amy E. Levy