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Rabbi's Message

03/27/2020 05:45:10 PM

Mar27

Dear chevreh,

 

Thank you for your patience and hanging in there with me as I am learning how to create appropriate Zoom invitations! I will be lighting candles this evening at 7:15 pm and services will begin with me and Allyson at 7:30 pm at https://zoom.us/j/412061997 (Meeting ID: 412 061 997) or by phone: 929-205-6099 (Meeting ID: 412 061 997)

 

Please join Rabbi Jonah and the KHN community for A Little Jewish Night Music tomorrow evening, Saturday March 28, 8:30-9:00 PM for Havdalah and a musical cap to another Shabbat. Posting the lyrics in our Zoom session, Rabbi Jonah will invite you to sing along in the comfort of your homes to original songs (mostly original) to say goodbye to the week that has passed as we welcome a new week to come.

 

Zoom at https://us04web.zoom.us/j/297440155

 

 

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayikra, we read, “And God called to Moses, and the Lord spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying…” In the Torah, the final Hebrew letter of the word Vayikra, the aleph is silent, and yet its presence turns the word into an active communication between God and Moses. If there hadn’t been an aleph, if the word had simply read, Vayikar, it would have meant, God chanced upon or happened upon Moses by coincidence. Rashi said that every time God communicated with Moses, it was always preceded by God summoning Moses by name, which is lashon chiba, an expression of love, of preciousness.

 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tries to answer the question of how Vayikra is speaking to us now, in the middle of a devastating pandemic. He says, “…perhaps also specifically in our isolation [is] a time when we have the opportunity to listen to our soul, to our mind, to our heart in a way that we don't have at other times because we are so busy interacting with other people, perhaps also in our isolation, we can hear God's very quiet call. A little aleph, almost silent. [God is] asking us to question, is there someone I should call? Is there someone I should help? Is there someone I should thank? Is there a prayer I should be saying? Is there a text I should be learning? Is there a mitzvah I should be doing? Is there something that I have been neglecting until now because I felt just too busy and now that I am in this isolation, in this silence, able to hear, able to think of?” *

I have been hearing stories from people both inside and out of the health field from the Greater New York area, which now is the epicenter, having half the COVID-19 cases in the country. Hospitals are already crowded and unsafe and not even the providers have the proper protection yet, let alone all of the patients. Thousands are hospitalized in New York right now, and the Javits Center as well as some colleges are becoming makeshift hospitals. This is a catastrophic situation and many of us feel that we want to help in any way that we able.

In our own area, the Centenary Methodist Luncheon is temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus, but food-insecure people still need to eat, and now a sense of communal gathering has been taken away from the all of us, including the most vulnerable among us.

 

One way that we can respond is to give to local organizations which are serving those in need.

 

Three local organization (and I am certain there are others) do a wonderful job at helping people with essential needs:

 

Fisherman’s Mark https://fishermansmark.org/donations/

Delaware Valley Food Pantry https://www.facebook.com/DelawareValleyFoodPantry/

Norwescap http://norwescap.org/get-involved/?mc_cid=485df91f43&mc_eid=f0c07f5245

 

Nationally, with so many kids home from school, there is a need to make up for the school meals not being provided at this time. Mazon, a Jewish response to hunger, recommends, No Kid Hungry, at https://www.nokidhungry.org

 

Finally, the CDC Foundation is a well-respected, well-managed organization which receives technical assistance from the CDC, but operates completely independent of it.

https://www.cdcfoundation.org/coronavirus

 

Those of us who have discretionary money that would have been spent on going to movies, eating at restaurants, and going on vacation may want to consider giving more than usual to those whose lives are most impacted at this unprecedented time.

 

To learn about how you can support in-home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners during the Coronavirus crisis, please consult the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance at https://www.domesticworkers.org

Rabbi Sacks ends his talk with “Can I somehow, underneath this all, hear that still small voice of Hashem saying to me, use this time of being at one with yourself to listen and to hear and to heed and to do and to grow, and thereby become strong by giving strength to others because it is not only to Moshe Rabbeinu that vayikra, ‘God calls’, but to all of us.” *

May all of us find some peace on Shabbat, and mark it in a way that allows us to hear that loving call, Vayikra, that keeps our hearts open, not hardened. As we have recently entered the Hebrew month of Nisan, let us tap into that power of liberation and expansive possibilities, especially at a time when we are truly living in a more narrow place.

Last week I posted a poem by Rabbi Tamara Cohen. This week, I’ll post one by her sister Rabbi Ayelet Cohen:

 

May the
One who blessed our ancestors
Bless
all those who put themselves at risk to care for the sick
Physicians
and nurses and orderlies
Technicians
and home health aides
EMTs and
pharmacists
(And bless
especially _______)
Who navigate
the unfolding dangers of the world each day,
To tend
to those they have sworn to help.
Bless
them in their coming home and bless them in their going out.
Ease their
fear. Sustain them.
Source
of all breath, healer of all beings,
Protect
them and restore their hope.
Strengthen
them, that they may bring strength;
Keep them
in health, that they may bring healing.
Help them
know again a time when they can breathe without fear.
Bless
the sacred work of their hands.
May this
plague pass from among us, speedily and in our days.


Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, March 2020

 

 

Shabbat shalom,

 

Rabbi Diana

 

*http://rabbisacks.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/A-Dvar-Torah-by-Rabbi-Sacks-on-Vayikra-in-the-age-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic.pdf

Wed, July 8 2020 16 Tammuz 5780