Some of you already know, my favourite time of year is late summer and early fall. Maybe because in the past it was a time of new beginnings with Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot – the harvest, or maybe because it was the beginning of a new school and program year. But this year things are different. All children are not returning to school, most families are not attending High Holiday services in person, and the Centre is not open to our membership to take part in our previous 120 on-site indoor programs.
To me, the fall was always about saying good-bye to the more carefree days of summer and “gearing” up for the inspiring and reflective days of the upcoming Chagim/Jewish holydays and festivals. But this year is different. This year families and friends did not have the opportunity to interact with each other without face masks and keeping physical distance. This year we did not have a carefree summer and Betel staff have not been gearing up for opening the Centre to our membership with new and innovative programs. This year is different. The past six months have been different.
As we begin the Jewish New Year of 5781, we are reflecting on who we are as individuals and as a community alone. What has been a time for personal and community growth and celebration has been marred by the reality of COVID 19 and increased numbers of transmission. This year, we are entering the New Year and the days before Yom Kippur more solemnly, more reflective and more appreciative of previous “Days of Awe.” This year, we are perhaps more caring, more concerned and aware of the importance of health and welfare for each other and our families and friends.
This year, we are hopefully more sensitive to those living alone, the sick, the isolated and those impacted by the devastating and deadly effects of COVID 19. This year we mourn the lives of our friends, family and Betel members differently. This year we are reminded about the importance of social interaction and engagement, recipes for good physical, spiritual and mental health. This year, we all experience the loss of not being together at the Bernard Betel Centre.
But being the eternal optimist, I am reminded how resilient we are and how even under these horrific circumstances we can reach out and be with each other either through physical distancing or our many online and teleconferencing programs and courses. We are a community that has tremendous resources. A community who looks after each other and responds to the needs of our most vulnerable. We are a community of care and compassion. A community that is there for our members and each other.
For the past six months, I have frequently commented that the Bernard Betel Centre staff are my heroes and inspiration. They have kept in touch with our membership by making telephone calls, teaching them how to access our programs via. Zoom, facilitating weekly Zoom and Facebook Live programs, providing outdoor concerts, outdoor library opportunities, newsletters and resources, and of course providing Meals on Wheels to thousands of seniors in the community. Yes, they are my heroes and give me hope each and everyday.
On September 22, 2020, we held our Annual General and Special Meeting of the Bernard Betel Centre. Over 55 members including Board Members, Members’ Council and 25 staff participated online on Zoom. There was no dinner, no entertainment, and no speakers. It was a ‘business’ meeting, but our membership was there to support us and assist in developing the direction of the Centre. Your participation was greatly appreciated and is a strong testimony of your commitment to the Bernard Betel Centre. We greatly appreciate this.
During the meeting, I spoke about the strong dedication of our Board of Directors. I want to personally thank our current Board of Directors for their strong commitment, guidance and dedication to the Bernard Betel Centre. They have worked long hours over the past year ensuring that the vision, mission and values of the Centre are adhered to, and that despite COVID 19, our Strategic Plan is on course and strategic goals being met. They have inspired me by their passion, ethics and integrity. Under their leadership and guidance, the Bernard Betel Centre has thrived. I want to thank each and everyone of them who have demonstrated determination, wisdom and courage during this difficult time.
Thank you to everyone who has made and continues to make the Bernard Betel Centre a special place for our seniors. It takes all of us to make a strong, healthy, vibrant and intellectually stimulating environment that promotes caring and compassion.
On behalf of the Bernard Betel Centre staff, I wish all of you and your families a healthy, happy, sweet New Year! May it be a year of hope, inspiration, resilience and personal growth!
Shana Tova U’Metukah, G’mar Hatima Tova