April 2020

Dear Friends,

We have become accustomed to holding hands with each other and singing hinei mah tov every Shabbat in shul, a physical manifestation of the heartfelt closeness of our ACI community.

So how do we continue the sentiments of hinei mah tov– ‘how good it is when a Torah community dwells well together’ – while living in the current situation of a need to maintain physical distance from each other?

Let’s keep mind that, as my wife Judy commented during our first livestream ‘study and Havdalah’ a few weeks ago, the distance we are practicing is in fact not ‘social distancing’ but rather - more accurately - merely ‘spatial distancing.’  Indeed, at ACI, while we are reminding everyone of the importance of maintaining such physical distancing, we are at the same time investing much time, energy, and love in promoting and practicing what I call ‘social cohesioning’ (even creating a new form of the word for the occasion!) With the phone call system set up by Ayelet, many congregants have signed up to make calls to many other congregants, keeping our social care and concern for each other very much alive and intact during this difficult time. Please feel free to contact Ayelet (via astoriashul@gmail.com) to sign up and participate in our much needed and much appreciated ‘social cohesioning’ efforts. 

I am pleased to say that – through our ‘livestream’ Shabbat and chagim services, our ‘Zoomed’ Maskit classes, and our online/ virtual/ phone communications with congregants – we at ACI continue to touch each other’s heart as we sing, proclaim, and practice with great conviction: Hinei mah tov u-mah na’im shevet achim gam yachad.

This current ‘lockdown’ situation will end, and we will be back together in shul. In the meantime – and always – stay healthy, safe, and strong!

Shabbat shalom and Chodesh tov!


Rabbi Pearl