Getting Past the Nightmare, Preparing for the Dream
TRADITION’s publisher the Rabbinical Council of America was sadly forced to cancel its annual conference of members from around North America and the world on account of the current pandemic. This was particularly difficult as the member rabbis have been toiling with distinction during these difficult times through new and creative modes of rabbinic leadership and pastoral care. The convention is always an opportunity for collegial interaction, recharging of batteries, sharing ideas and learning from experts in an array of disciplines—and the convention was needed more this year than ever. Undaunted by the circumstances, the RCA leadership launched an unConvention—gathering online for Zoom sessions and discussions. The next best thing to being there. Among the highlights was a session with Rabbi Dr. David Fox, who outlined next steps for the “new (ab)normal” as we anticipate return to our congregations and rabbinic routines. While directed at rabbis, there is so much in Rabbi Fox’s presentation of worth for a general audience that the RCA was glad to share it with the readership of TRADITION.
The session explored the challenges of re-adapting to personal, social, and congregational life while cognizant of the many changes in our reality. The lingering effects of quarantine, of bereavement and losses, and of related trauma on our communities will require pastoral sensitivity and innovative planning. The emotional and spiritual re-adaptation among congregants renewing their interest and need for synagogue affiliation after prolonged disconnection from others was explored. Mental health and attitude development for self and for community was explored in acknowledging the impacts of stress and trauma on us all, while also cultivating optimism and hopefulness in ourselves and in our congregants, was emphasized, surveying both the science and the spirituality of hopefulness.
Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox, a forensic and clinical psychologist, is the Director of Interventions and Community Education for Project Chai, the Crisis Intervention, Trauma and Bereavement Department of Chai Lifeline.
The session took place on May 4, 2020 and was moderated by Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America.
[Published on May 13, 2020]