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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Value of Time- "The Early Bird Catches the Worm"

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

This post is dedicated to two synagogues whom I have virtually visited over the past few days; Anshei Emet Synagogue in the Lakeview Neighborhood in Chicago and and the Emanuel Synagogue in Hartford, Connecticut.


When I was a child Dad used to come into my room early in the morning and call out to me in his native Polish, gibberish that meant, "The early bird captures the worm" or in dad speak, "The eerly beerd captures the vorm." After eighteen years of this training, I have always been an "eerly beerd" and happily so, for doesn't everyone know that early morning is the best time of day?

Early morning is the time of sunrise and dew. It is the time of quiet streets and a quiet mind.

It is the time that the street is ruled by squirrels scampering and birds flying. Wild turkeys rise from their slumber and spread their voluptuous tails. Occasional joggers run past, but the world is quiet and the potential of the new day lies shining before us.

Even as I grow older I still delight in getting up early and with the death of mom in late January, the issue of getting up early in the morning became real. During the first month of mourning the Kaddish was said between the afternoon and evening services. As the month went on I went more to the early morning minyan at the Sephardic minyan until it became clearer that things were changing.

And then....and then... time stopped. No more minyan, early or late. No more photographs of seniors. No more projects. No more coffee with friends. No more seeing grandchildren or children. No more supermarkets or pharmacies or meetings. I am so fortunate to have it so easy; to have these taken away is nothing compared the the thousands of parents who have to parent, teach and feed their children 24/7, to people who have to work, to people who have lost their jobs, to people who have so much to balance, people carrying so much responsibility carried on their broad shoulders. It's nothing compared to the grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren, for the elderly suffering alone with the virus and who are isolated from their families. What is it compared to our governors and mayors and professionals looking for solutions, for people living in close proximity to one another all through New York City and most of all, for the medical professionals who tirelessly and without proper equipment, care for the sick.

What's the reason to get up in the morning? It's easier to stay in bed, to hide my head under the covers, to pretend that the world outside isn't upside down. But minyan is happening. At some virtual synagogues, it is just the rabbi and the cantor davening. At other virtual synagogues, Zoom offers people a room to join, a community to commune with. Physical synagogues' doors may be shut, but there are hundreds of virtual doors to be opened. There are spots at virtual tables and chapels all over the world. There are the comforts of familiar tunes. There is still the opportunity to cover my eyes when saying the Shema, to read the Ashrei, to read the Psalm of the day. That's the familiar and that's what makes it easy to get up in the morning.

Yes, dad, I hear you still. I'm still the "eerly beerd." You'd be so proud. A shout out to the communities opening their doors to virtual guests, offering them a seat at the table, a chance to be a part of a community and the opportunity to say kaddish. I don't take what you do for granted. You are doing your part to put the broken pieces of the world together. It is said that we can find holiness in small acts; like eating or drinking or smelling fragrant spices. Is there a place for a blessing to be said at a virtual place in virtual time? I hope so.

"What may be done at any time may be done at no time."

Scottish proverb

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