Exterior of Temple Israel Long Beach


Steve Gordon

A Perfect Storm

February 1, 2021

The phrase “A Perfect Storm,” is often used to describe a series of events that occur at the same time causing significant damage as a result of the confluence of events. Right now, it feels like we are in the middle of a perfect storm. With the current surge of virus infections, hospitals and health care workers being taxed to the point of being unable to properly care for those in need, and death totals far exceeding all expectations, our world is in complete turmoil.

What I’ve just described is only one piece (albeit a significant part) of the storm. The criminal and despicable behavior that occurred at our nation’s capital on January 6 make up another piece of the perfect storm. Please note that this article has nothing to do with politics. I’m talking about common decency here. Doing what was done that day is not partisan. Nor was it legitimate protest. It was criminal, plain and simple.

The first amendment of our Constitution guarantees the right to assemble. It does not allow for physical violence, property damage, or extortion. The fact that this happened at the same time we are all trying to stay safe and remain healthy is what’s making up the perfect storm. The anxiety that many of us were feeling prior to that day was only exacerbated by the horrifying visuals of our democracy being attacked.

That’s the bad news. The good news is we have a place. A place that allows us to take a deep breath, let our shoulders sag, and forget about the world, at least for a short time, until we have to get back to reality. The place I’m talking about is at the corner of 3rd and Loma in Long Beach. The word sanctuary describes a room in our synagogue that is used for engaging in religious worship. The word also, however, describes what we can find as members of our Temple Israel community.

I remember, as do all of us of course, the horrific day in September of 2001, when the unthinkable happened, and we were left gaping at the images on our televisions, images that nobody could have ever imagined.

That evening, a group of my neighbors gathered outside, and started singing God Bless America, as well as other patriotic songs. We held hands, formed circles and shed tears while at the same time providing each other with comfort. That comfort came from the fact that we were all Americans and were in this together.

Unfortunately, our current perfect storm prevents us from gathering as we would like. It prevents us from the physical closeness that we crave, and the ability to look into each other’s eyes with compassion, understanding and connection.

Those are things we cannot do. What we can do is remember we are all part of an amazing community, a community based on mutual respect, as well as a shared heritage, shared culture, and most importantly, a shared love for our synagogue.

It is at a time such as this when we need each other more than ever. I strongly encourage you to attend a Shabbat or Havdalah service. There are also so many other opportunities to be together, even virtually. The calendar of events is emailed out every week on Mondays and Fridays. I assure you there is something for everyone. All you have to do is look.

One of the definitions of family is, “a group of persons connected by a collective social, or other commonality.”

At Temple Israel, we are a family. And when a perfect storm hits, our family is who we turn to for comfort and support. That’s what we are here for.