Seeking: Nice Jewish shul (online services only need apply)

Married, midlife, Ashkenazi soulful Jewish female seeking spiritual community to join for online interaction. No in-person meetings. Serious virtual connections only, please.

FITZGERALD HEBREW Congregation Synagogue building, Fitzgerald, Georgia; dedicated on June 25, 1942. (photo credit: FITZGERALD HEBREW CONGREGATION)
FITZGERALD HEBREW Congregation Synagogue building, Fitzgerald, Georgia; dedicated on June 25, 1942.
 After 50 years attending crowded Modern Orthodox synagogues every Shabbat in communities across the US and Israel, this past year my minyan was my empty living room.
It is ironic that I met my bashert in a synagogue 32 years ago. Now, my husband is my sole hazan, Torah reader and havruta every Shabbat. I fell in love with him standing on the bimah, leading services at Harvard Hillel. So I have no complaints about the services. There is (almost) no talking during tefila, the drashot do not drag on endlessly, kiddush is junk-food-free, and I rarely have to listen to pleas for donations.
And yet, I miss going to shul.
Spiritually speaking, I am lonely. When we sing, it is far too quiet. I need more voices, a cacophony of other sinners pleading alongside me, other souls with skin in the game.
The world is about to come back to itself. A grand reopening of public life, welcoming and inviting all to join. A relief for many but not for us high riskers still stuck at home.
I HAVE lived the past 10 years with an incurable but treatable rare blood cancer called Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Post-chemotherapy, I learned to keep my distance to protect my severely immunocompromised system.
Now that I am vaccinated, absolutely nothing has changed. My oncology team mandates remaining vigilant, under strictest lockdown, to minimize risk. The COVID vaccine’s efficacy on my wonky immune system is a mystery. But we know that my health challenges would make me a nightmare COVID patient. To stay safe and healthy, I am to stay home, tucked away from family, friends, freedom.
Hence, a wee bit lonely.
I am surprised that going to synagogue sits close to the very top of my “what I miss most” list.
This pandemic has doled out so much global devastation, despair and incalculable loss. Collective grief makes a dearth of communal prayer even more poignant. I long for my cozy seat in the back row, my little space to offer words of humility. I miss joining powerful waves of murmured petition, the salve of song washing over me, cleansing my open wounds.  
I want to be reminded that I am part of something bigger. I need the call and response, the echo of other voices telling me I do not stand alone. I am the classic communal Jew.
By contrast, my husband is a sole practitioner. He is a “Desert Island Jew” who worships regardless of who is around him. He prefers peaceful quiet and the stillness of solo prayer.
The privilege of studying Torah on Zoom twice a week with a group of brilliant, learned, impressive women is my only link to any sense of community. It leaves me craving more.
MY IDEAL online spiritual home would be a place to pray meaningfully together, wrestle with thought-provoking texts together, sing unabashedly, offer help to those most in need, exchange intellectually curious Torah insights, and compassionately support one another through this time of social distance and emotional isolation. In other words, I want it all.
Am I asking too much? Can one online venue offer the whole megillah, or am I being unrealistic? I refuse to lower my standards. I am holding out for a standout candidate. I will not settle for anything less than inspiring, uplifting and spiritually fulfilling. I realize I am being demanding, but I can only hope God would shep naches from my discretion, right?
With Passover approaching, I have a nagging ache in my soul. The Seder night was about gathering. The eating of the Passover sacrifice was about neighborhood. The crossing of the Red Sea was about community. Standing at Sinai, together as one, was about collective national revelation. “It is not good for man to be alone.”
This new year I will commit to finding an online community, anywhere across the globe, to rock my spiritual world as I wait to safely emerge from my cocoon. This Holiday of Freedom, I will pray to find liberation from the soulless slavery of spiritual loneliness.
What’s a nice Jewish FFB (frum from birth) girl like me doing with a ritually and spiritually thirsty soul like mine? Seeking a meaningful virtual shul experience on Zoom 24/6 – any day except Shabbat. For the second time in my life, I am hoping to meet my bashert in a shul.★
The writer’s quenched soul lives in Jerusalem while the rest of her resides in Philadelphia, where she is working on an essay collection about family legacy, loss, laughter and living fearlessly with third-generation lymphoma. Read more about Waldenstrom here: