Rabbi's Update 5/20/2022
Please join us tomorrow morning in person or on Zoom to hear from Joel Wasserman, son of our members Lori and Robert Wasserman, on the situation in Ukraine. Joel has been living and working in Ukraine for the last four years or so. Right before the war he relocated from Kyiv to Lviv. He has been volunteering to help others who have relocated due to the war and has been interviewed often by Western media sources as an American who speaks both Ukrainian and Russian. Joel will be speaking to us from Lviv over Zoom. His talk will be in lieu of my sermon but in order not to disturb the flow of the service, he will speak right after the service ends. I anticipate his talk will begin at around 11:15 or so. You can join us either in person at the shul or over Zoom for Joel’s talk, whether or not you have attended services beforehand.
This past Shabbat morning we used a device called a “Meeting Owl” to Zoom services from the Sanctuary. It appears likely that this will be what we use for our hybrid services from now on. In the future if we have hybrid meetings or classes the Meeting Owl can also be used for these. For those of you joining us on Zoom, I want to explain how the Meeting Owl works and how to maximize the quality of your experience.
The Meeting Owl has a high quality microphone that can pick up speakers from quite a distance. More significantly for our purposes, it has a 360 degree video camera and internal AI software that allows it to focus on whoever is speaking (or singing) at that time.
This is a significant improvement over how we have been doing things previously. Because you can have only one microphone and one speaker operational in a room without causing feedback (you know this if you and your spouse have been on Zoom or another video conferencing platform while both of you are in the same room but on separate devices), when I was speaking from my podium the sound was still coming out of the Zoom window for the central Bimah. So if you had your view set to Speaker View rather than Gallery, when I was speaking you could hear me but not see me. There was no video coverage of the Hazzan’s podium nor of the Ark so when the Torah was being taken out or returned, that could not be seen either.
With the Meeting Owl you can see what is going on no matter where in the Sanctuary it is happening -- center Bimah, either podium, the Ark, or even if someone is speaking from their seat. This means that for the best Zoom experience, you should set your view to Speaker View rather than Gallery. The window which is showing the service will be labeled simply “Kehilat Shalom.”
You will notice that the Zoom window “Kehilat Shalom” will actually be a split view. Across the top of the window there will be a narrow box that shows a 360 degree view of the entire Sanctuary. Under that there will be a larger box that shows the person speaking or singing. If two people in different places in the Sanctuary are speaking simultaneously, you will get a split view in that box that shows both of the people at the same time -- for example, me at my podium and the Hazzan or shaliach tzibur at the center bimah. It may take a bit of getting used to but I think you will agree that the Zoom experience is significantly better than what we had before. Certainly this is the feedback that I got from this past Shabbat morning’s service.
A couple of other quick notes:
--- If you are planning to attend Shabbat morning in person, please sign up at:
https://forms.gle/zYLNDwitGZmPyzBq7. We have very few signups for tomorrow as of this writing but I am not sure if this means we will have a small attendance or if people have simply forgotten to sign up. (We will revisit this requirement fairly soon but for now, please indulge my mishegoss.)
-- On Wednesday I wrote about my friend Rabbi Steve Sager of Durham, NC, who passed away this past Sunday. Here is a loving remembrance of him which appeared in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: https://www.jta.org/2022/05/19/obituaries/remembering-rabbi-steven-sager-a-leader-mentor-poet-in-north-carolina-and-beyond
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian