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The Conversation

Temple Emanu-El Honolulu Continues to Adapt During the Pandemic

Temple Emanu-El Honolulu Hawaii.jfif
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Wikimedia Commons
Temple Emanu-El in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi

Right now, Hawaiʻi’s Jewish community is recognizing the Days of Awe, a time of reflection at the start of a new year. It’s the year 5782 on the Hebrew calendar — and the second Jewish New Year that has been celebrated during the pandemic.

The Conversation spoke with Rabbi Jennifer Weiner of Honolulu’s Temple Emanu-El about how services have pivoted during our ongoing battle with COVID-19.

"It's a huge disappointment to our community that we cannot gather in person for our High Holy Days services. And yet people understand that the reason why we're online is to protect each other's health and safety," Weiner said.

"In Judaism, the value, the mitzvah, the commandment is called 'pikuach nefesh,' which means preserve one's soul — and it's also about preserving one's health, and that we're responsible, not just for ourselves as an individual, but for each one of us, regardless of religion or faith or anything. So that by not gathering in a large group, we are protecting each other," she said.

Temple Emanu-el has been providing online services for its community, and for Yom Kippur, there will also be online discussion time, Weiner said.

"We're also going to be having a storytime for young people," she said. "We're just all trying to be able to offer different opportunities for different age groups, and for different interests of being able to gather and gather online, while still recognizing that what we're doing is very different than what we wish we could be doing at this time."

This interview aired on The Conversation on Sept. 14, 2021.

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