The joy of gathering together


It is remarkable how seemingly disparate groups can blend together in some situations.

I attended a couple of family events recently that really made me realize how magical this blending can be.

At both events, two completely different groups of family and friends started out in their own groups, but eventually ended up sitting side by side. What brought us together? Celebrations: A birthday and a baby shower.

In this summer of heat, humidity and rain, we were lucky to have two beautiful end-of-August days. We ate, we chatted, we laughed and we played (children were involved), both indoors and outside. We learned about what we had in common and what we didn’t. Our political viewpoints didn’t matter and neither did our backgrounds. We shared good food and gifts. There was a lot of smiling and laughing. And quite a few hugs.

Since we are in the month of Elul, the lead-up to the High Holy Days and a time of introspection and reflection, I’ve been reflecting on this weekend of celebrations and why I appreciated it more than I have in the past.

Quite simply, it’s beautiful to watch how families and communities grow and come together! Children marry, and in-laws and other new relatives appear on the scene. Plus, his friends and her friends. Then there are neighbors and coworkers.

People came to these celebrations from several states, both coasts and one foreign country. But for those few moments, we were all together – a new and growing community brought together with love. It’s magical to experience! And it was an even richer experience this year because it had been so long since we were able to have such relaxed gatherings.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all take lessons from a family that comes together, and even works together, for a common cause? Something to think about.

Last year, as we looked forward to the High Holy Days, I reflected on the opening up of our institutions post-COVID. It was a big deal, and we still cautioned people to check calendars for potential closings, as well as becoming familiar with post-pandemic rules and regulations.

Now, we seem to be sliding into a routine that involves outdoor and indoor celebrations, like those I just experienced with family and friends. And in our listings for the High Holy Days, I see that most congregations are having in-person services, but with some online components.

COVID is still out there and cases are reportedly rising again, but I hope we can find ways to be safe and continue to gather together.

Our High Holy Days issue is the biggest of the year. Take some time to look at the businesses and people who support your newspaper by buying an ad to wish you a shanah tovah. And make sure you think of our advertisers – many of whom support us year-round – when you need the services they provide.

Advertising is an important piece of our budget at Jewish Rhode Island. To every advertiser in this issue, we say todah rabbah, thank you very much!

From my family to yours, l’shanah tovah.


Fran Ostendorf,