"Richard" approached Rachel during the Camp Neshama retreat. While we didn't know him well, he had a story to tell us. Richard proceeded to say just how much our online programs meant to him during COVID. Especially the Havdallah.
Your Havdallah service help keep me sane this past year
"I watched your live Havdallah service most weeks. It was addictive, and I felt connected Jewishly even though I was holed up in my house, alone. Your Havdallah service help keep me sane this past year."
Ariella echoed what Richard said right away. "Me too, I am still watching the Havdallah services. It's the only Jewish thing I do every week."
When COVID hit, we started doing our family musical Havdallah on Facebook. As the reality of the pandemic became clearer, we realized that this was not just going to be for a few weeks. The Havdallah service regularly has several hundreds views and includes a mishebrach prayer for those who need healing.
Virtual Community around the world
Now after nearly 70 episodes, we have a real-life virtual community who participate. It includes members of the LA Pico Shul community, and extends to Cleveland, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Montgomery and Ramat Beit Shemesh. The Musical Havdallah service has been a source of inspiration, healing and Jewish connections during one of the most trying times in recent memory. Thanks to our supporters, we have been able to keep the on-line musical Havdallah going, spreading so much light along the way.
With more than three decades of experience organizing in the Jewish community, we have always found that Havdallah was the most unifying Jewish service. It brings Jews of all backgrounds together in harmony. It’s the music, the singing, the joy. It’s a short and simple service that everyone can remember. It’s popular at camps and youth groups. It’s the words we say together, Layehudim hayta, ora v simcha, sasson v’yikar — ken tihiyeh lanu For the Jews there was light and joy, gladness and honor — so let it be with us.
During this incredibly hard period we are living through, in a world sickened and turned upside-down by COVID, we need the message and inspiration of Havdallah more than ever.
Havdallah brightens the coming week
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote in his book Sabbath - Day of Eternity, “When the skies are dark and the stars appear, Shabbos is over. It is time for Havdalah, the prayer that ushers in a new week. Inhale the spices and enjoy a last taste of Paradise. Gaze at the twisted candle, and meditate about how this day will brighten the coming week.”
This is one of the secrets of Havdalah, created to “brighten the coming week.” We are hopeful, we are spiritually renewed, and we pray for a better future. We sing for Eliyahu HaNavi, who tradition tells us will return on a Saturday night to announce that the Messianic age has arrived.
The sky is dark for so many. This year has brought so many challenges to all of us.
Every single person in the world has faced unprecedented and personal challenges.
So in addition to daily classes, weekly programs, and now retreats — evey week, we film a live thirty-minute high-energy musical service to bring light, hope, healing and joy.
You can make a difference in the New Year
Thanks to generous supporters, Pico Shul continues to make a real difference. Please be our partner in the New Year by making a donation to help us bring a taste of paradise to a world which is so in need of physical, spiritual and communal healing. Your support will ensure that Musical Havdallah service, classes, events and retreats will continue in 5782!
Your gift will ensure that Pico Shul can continue to create more light, joy, happiness and honor in 5782, for Jewish singles, families and children — and to brighten the future for all the Richards and Ariellas who are out there.
May you and your loved ones be written and inscribed in the Book of Life for a healthy, joyous and successful New Year!
Rabbi Yonah and Rachel Bookstein