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03/15/2020 05:19:45 PM


This post includes content from my words to the congregation at the Shabbat service on March 13, 2020.

Uncertainty is unsettling. When we don’t know what’s going on, it’s easy to get nervous, upset, frightened. We are living though such a time right now. We don’t know exactly where this new virus is.  We do know that it is disrupting our routines and claiming lives all around the world. 

These past few days, my thoughts have been consumed with our sacred community.  In the past, during anxious times, we sought to be with each other. Think about the terrible shooting in Pittsburgh.  The following Friday evening, we all “showed up for Shabbat,” in such numbers that we exceeded the maximum number currently allowed for assembly in New York State (500).  

We instinctively turn to each other for comfort. Now we may have to distance ourselves physically – but that doesn’t mean that we are distant from each other.  Temple Israel’s leadership, clergy, professional staff and teachers are all working on ways to use technology to stay connected with each other.  The members of our community will remain connected emotionally and spiritually, even if not physically. 

As part of this effort, our Caring Committee chairs and I have generated a list of people with whom we want to make certain to stay in touch.  If you know someone who might be feeling isolated or anxious, please reach out to that person.  If I can help provide additional support to you, or to anyone else in our community, please let me know.  Let’s embrace the truth that we all need each other.   

Finally, I consider it a blessing to feel sad at the thought of canceled CJL classes and no Torah study gatherings.  This feeling of sadness reaffirms for me that I genuinely enjoy being with my community.  When I feel sad, I remind myself that my community is still here, even if we have to interact a little differently with each other in the coming weeks.
I want to end by sharing a poem with you, one that I find especially meaningful for this time.  It is called "Pandemic," written by Lynn Ungar:


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.


Wed, January 26 2022 24 Sh'vat 5782