VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — “Shanah Tovah, Shanah Tovah” was exclaimed Tuesday morning as members of Temple Lev Tikvah in Virginia Beach wished each other a good year during their first in-person visit since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Their services had been virtual since March of 2020, but founder Rabbi Israel Zoberman, in partnership with the Church of The Holy Apostles, presided over Rosh Hashanah services at the church’s Lynnhaven Parkway location.
In a display of hospitality, the Episcopal and Roman Catholic church draped cloths over some Christian symbols and installed a menorah at the entrance.
Zoberman, who has lived in Virginia Beach for four decades, was ebullient as he greeted teen congregants who appeared to have grown several inches during the pandemic.
He offered a pat on the back to other members, many in masks, as the new year celebration doubled as a family reunion of sorts.
Another family joined the service by video conference.
In an interview before the service, Zoberman reflected on the events of the past year in the United States and in his home country of Israel.
“Lev Tikva- Heart of Hope — in these times we need hope perhaps more than any time in human history,” said Zoberman.
The past year has included cries for police reform, a reckoning over race relations, an attempt to overthrow democracy, and as children head back to class, there have been outbreaks of violence over vaccines. Zoberman penned his opinion on the past year and the challenges of the future in a recent issue of the Virginian-Pilot.
Zoberman, the son of Holocaust survivors, sums up the year this way: “Everyone, in a sense, has become Jewish; everyone is vulnerable.”
A few months ago, Zoberman’s home country served as the vaccination model with 80% of those over the age of 12 vaccinated.
But with the resumption of travel, business activities, and social activities, Israel is now experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and anyone over the age of 12 is eligible for a booster shot. A top Israeli health official will brief the Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 17.
President Joe Biden hopes to offer Pfizer booster shots in the U.S. by Sept. 20. Only Pfizer has requested authorization for the booster shot.
From the Talmud, Zoberman offers these ancient words of wisdom that were shared when several men were at sea:
“One of them started digging a hole in the boat and he said ‘I can do whatever I want; this is my section of the boat.’ Of course, he was reminded by the rabbis that what you do affects everyone in the boat. A rabbi responded: ‘You just can’t do whatever you want to do; we will all drown unless we cooperate.’ “