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The first "Rabbi's Week In Review Blog"

05/06/2020 12:34:35 PM

May6

Rabbi Doug Alpert

This is my first post in this new blog for our Congregation Kol Ami-KC newsletter.  While there comes with this blog an expectation that there will be a strong emphasis on the social-justice pursuits of Kol Ami (and this rabbi), I see it as an opportunity to reflect on how we come together as a unique Jewish community — one of compassion and care, one of meaning and purpose.

I do want to talk about our community, particularly in relation to the present pandemic and our physical isolation. But first, one piece of hopeful news: This week, petitions were filed with the Missouri Secretary of State for a ballot initiative to pass Medicaid expansion for our state, something our legislators have failed to do.  

While those who have opposed Medicaid expansion for years will challenge the petitions, virtually double the number of required signatures have been collected to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot. With that comes the hope that, finally, about 300,000 Missourians, who have gone without any kind of health insurance, will be covered and have access to good health care, and that the billions of federal dollars that have been turned down by Missouri and gone to other states with Medicaid expansion will finally come to Missouri. We hope that, with the passage of Medicaid expansion, the closings of rural hospitals will cease, and living in rural Missouri will not mean driving hours to see a doctor or get to a hospital.

This week, we at Congregation Kol Ami have continued our newly established Shaharit service — our weekday-morning prayer and connection, which starts at 8 a.m. Monday-Friday, and runs for about 15 minutes. As part of the service, we are in the midst of counting each day of the Omer, the period that runs from the second night of Passover up until the holiday of Shavuot.

In the midst of the unknown that has accompanied COVID-19 — the unknown of when it will end, and what the new normal will look like — we come together each morning and mark time. We set out each morning and each day with meaning and purpose, renewing our sense of being in community together each day.

As I mark the present time with a sense of hope for the future, I have also been witness to the Kol Ami of our past. On the positive side, dear friends of Kol Ami who have since moved to other communities to share their gifts have reconnected with us via our Zoom worship. That has been a gift to me and to us and bears witness to the rich foundation upon which we stand. For me, it is a reminder of the extraordinary Kol Ami community I have seen since my tenure at Kol Ami began in 2011.

Unfortunately, a sad part of our past re-emerged in a way that was painful for our congregants who were with Kol Ami back in 2011-12, and for myself. There is no need to recount that experience here, and there was no purpose served in bringing it to light nine years later. How do I reconcile the positive against the negative?

Ultimately, I have reflected on the ongoing gift of Kol Ami for me, who has the great honor of being your rabbi, and the honor of walking with you on your Jewish journey.  In reflecting on our past, we reflect on what is good about our kehilah, our Jewish congregation. That good, that sense of being a welcoming, compassionate, and most diverse Jewish community had good seeds planted before I got the pulpit in 2011.  

At the same time, we have grown so much as a community. We are not the same community as we were in 2011-12, nor in 2013, 2014, 2015…. G-d willing, we will continue to grow and change while standing on the firm foundation of the lessons of our past.

No doubt there will be the next challenge. I know that, because we are a community of compassion, we will always strive toward the goal of creating an ever-increasing community of care and cohesion, and we will meet any challenge. We will extend that compassion and care beyond the figurative walls of Kol Ami to everyone in G-d’s created world, a world created בצלם אלהים — a world in which everyone is created in G-d’s image.

 

Wed, November 25 2020 9 Kislev 5781