Yet another month has gone by as we shelter in place. Although I would like to change the subject, COVID 19 has kidnapped our lives. It’s hard to find any news that doesn’t deal with at least some aspect of the pandemic. The Belgian government has started to relax the rules of confinement and we are hopeful that life will get back to normal. But what will the new normal look like? What does this mean for the IJC? Over the past two months, we have discovered new strengths via online communication. The IJC was an early adopter and transferred many of its activities online at record speed.
We have built routines via IJC@Home Facebook page and IJC - Zoom. We broadcast religious services including Kabbalat Shabbat every Friday night. This is more frequent than when we held services in person. Every Saturday morning, we offer a prayer opportunity. We have learned to pray with our sister community, Beth Hillel. Brian has worked with Rabbi Marc to create bilingual Shacharit services that have attracted up to 50 participants from both communities.
The Hebrew School has continued to meet in a virtual classroom. JiTap, a website, helps teach children about Judaism and Hebrew in a fun, effective fashion. Various chats and lectures have also enriched our communal life. I enjoy connecting to these different online meetings and I do it several times of the week. The IJC has never felt more like a family than during this time of separation and quarantine. At the IJC, we have not experienced 'social distancing', only 'physical distancing'. This is the big positive what I take from this painful time.
Even though we are getting by with help from a huge digital hand, it doesn’t replace the real one. I would love to be able to use this message to announce our plans to reopen. Unfortunately for the moment that is impossible. The government has not yet given any instructions or guidance about how to reopen the synagogue on Rue des Primeurs. Once we do, we will inform you and the reopening will be a special event. I, for one, look forward to seeing all of you, not just on the computer screen, but in person.