Move over Carson, Letterman and Kimmel. Rabbis Chai Posner, Mitchell Wohlberg and Eli Yoggev of Beth Tfiloh Congregation have come for your ratings with their weekly segment, MeZOOMin.
“It is similar to a talk show,” said Posner, who hosts the event alongside Wohlberg and Yoggev. “We chat about what’s new and what we’ve been up to. And we share some ideas on Torah and on life.”
Wohlberg described it as a group get-together. “If we can’t do it in one living room, we bring many living rooms together.”
Many of the previous MeZOOMin sessions have had special guests joining the three rabbis, with especially noteworthy personalities like Sen. Ben Cardin and Rabbi Moshe Hauer, the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. Rabbi Ysoscher Katz joined for a discussion on his time in the Satmar community and his joining of the modern Orthodox community, Posner said, while infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Kleinberg spoke on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to Posner, the program was born from the social distancing measures the community has become all too accustomed to. Through the series, Posner aims to create a “feeling of warmth and connection.” Typically riddled with “some laughter, some seriousness, some learning and some fun,” he hopes it provides Beth Tfiloh’s members with “an escape from the doldrums of COVID quarantine.”
Wohlberg explained that many regular attendees of Beth Tfiloh’s Shabbat services had developed close friendships over the years. As many remain hesitant to attend these same services, the MeZOOMin series is a way to maintain those relationships.
Posner explained that the title, thought up by Rina Goloskov, the synagogue’s director of marketing and communications, is a play on the word “mezumin,” in which three people will eat bread together and then “have a special insertion to the regular benching,” he said. As the event is held by the trio of Posner, Wohlberg and Yoggev, the name seemed apt.
Posner stated that the program is likely the single most popular recurring program that Beth Tfiloh currently has. Many of the participants are the members who otherwise would come together at their synagogue for kiddush and to socialize after services.
In the coming weeks, Posner expects discussions to focus on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, followed by a new list of topics “that will span the Jewish world in America.”
On whether the MeZOOMin series might continue even after it is safe for people to socialize normally again, Posner explained that quite a few congregants had expressed their support for continuing the series for an extended period of time.
“We will have to see,” he said, “but it seems likely it will continue for the foreseeable future.”
“It’s just a fabulous opportunity to stay connected, to learn something and remind the people that their rabbis are here for them,” Wohlberg added.