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A Special Message from Rabbi Strom & Cantor Sugarman


We find it difficult to find the right words to describe the past couple of weeks. Challenging, difficult, stressful, frightening, they all seem too benign. Knowing, as we all do, that this too shall pass is cold comfort for parents scrambling to move their children out of their college dorms, children who are worried about the health of elderly parents, people whose futures are subject to the volatility of the stock market, and families whose plans for weddings, b'nai mitzvah, and other life cycle events have been thrown into question. Please know, your clergy are here for all of you as are our lay leadership and professional staff. 

Our community is at its strongest when we care for one another in times of need. Whether in person, a phone call or even a video chat, we are available to you whenever you need us. Anxiety and worry are real and you are not alone. As Psychiatrist Richard Friedman writes in the NY Times, “even in the face of fear, we do have the capacity to act in ways that would help limit contagion during an epidemic. Specifically, we can behave altruistically, which benefits everyone.” 

While there are ample resources telling us how to maintain our physical health in the face of this pandemic, we are also mindful of the spiritual and mental anguish that this level of stress can cause. Many of the regular outlets that we would turn to, sports, Broadway, restaurants, concerts, are all closed. So what are we supposed to do?

Here are some things you might consider to maintain your spiritual and mental well-being:

  • First, right now, close your eyes and focus on your breathing for five minutes. 
  • Call a friend or loved one, just to talk. If you don't want to burden them, call us.
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Take out a pen and paper and write down all of the things you are worried about.
    • Then tear that paper up and throw it out.
  • Say a prayer out loud (see below for one suggestion).
  • Practice yoga or simply do some stretching.
  • Bake cookies or cook your favorite food.
  • Join us each Friday night at 7:00pm for Shabbat via livestream.
  • If you want the support of a mental health professional, you can reach out to Westchester Jewish Community Services 914-761-0600 or the NY State hotline at 1-866-588-0195.

Additionally, here is a prayer that you might choose to reprint for yourself or to share on social media. That too is an act of healing.

Eternal God, You abide though all things change. We are anxious and fearful, and we turn our hearts to You, looking to You and leaning on Your strength.

It is written (Psalm 84:5): Blessed is the one whose strength is in You.

Bless us now with faith and courage. Help us to feel that You are with us, steadying and sustaining us with the assurance that we are loved.

Be with us and bring us hope, that in the days to come, our aspirations may be fulfilled for our good and the good of those we love who depend on us.

Banish our fears with the sense that you are always present, to uphold and sustain us, as it is written (Isaiah 41:10) Have no fear, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with the power of My righteousness. Amen.

Be strong, be safe, and be well. You are not going through this alone. CBY is a family of families and we are all here for you. We will get through this as we always have, together; and together we will emerge stronger on the other side. 

Rabbi Josh Strom
Cantor Lilah Sugarman

Mon, May 20 2024 12 Iyar 5784