A little more than two weeks ago, I joyously celebrated Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the new Jewish month) Adar with members of our community, at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem. It was a magnificent day. Our community was even given a blessing for health and prosperity, while we were there. The month of Adar is supposed to be the most joyous month of the Jewish year. We are actually commanded to be joyful, in the month of Adar.
Since arriving home from Israel, it has been very easy to forget the commandment of joy, while we are all reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 virus. There is fear of the unknown, a volatile stock market, apocalyptic shopping for supplies, threat of quarantine and potential loss of life. We are deeply worried about our most vulnerable populations. I am worried about economic implications for our community members and employees. Will people lose jobs? How will shut-ins receive food? Is there enough food in our food cupboards? What happens if our agencies and synagogues need to close for an extended period of time?
These are all questions that we are exploring and addressing in partnership with our agencies and synagogues. Today Federation hosted an emergency meeting to ensure that we have plans in place as our world changes rapidly. We are operating in unchartered territory.
What I want you to know, and what is most important right now, is that our Jewish community is here for you. Even if we are isolated in quarantine, we are here to offer help and support. You are never alone.
We are making decisions that we believe will mitigate the spread of this virus. Many congregations are moving to online platforms for services. Group events and meetings are being canceled or postponed. We are working on creating relief efforts for those who are impacted economically. We are beginning preparations to make sure people have food for their Passover seders, particularly those who are food insecure.
In the coming days, we will continue to communicate with you about how our Jewish community is responding. Please be assured that not only are we responding, we, as a community, will do everything possible to help make it through this difficult time.
If you need anything, please reach out to us. As always, we are here to assist. And, please do not forget that even during these trying times, it is still the month of Adar and maybe there is opportunity to find joy in our day. Hug your children and grandchildren. Spend quality time with your family, when you have an evening that is meeting and event free. Do a mitzvah or a random act of kindness for a neighbor. Offer help to an elderly person who should not be out and about. Even in tough times, we can find joy, support and love for our community members.
Below is a shabbat prayer for you to ponder.
Please stay tuned for updates...
Shabbat Shalom -