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Updates On COVID-19 (aka coronavirus)- Click here to read the latest from our Rabbi regarding virtual worship sessions to keep our safety and our faith in these trying times.

Rabbi's Week In Review- June 15, 2020

06/15/2020 08:54:01 PM


I faced a health challenge this past week. It was in no way life-threatening, thank G-d. But the kidney stone (I am up to around 10, my first occurring in my late 20s) caused excruciating pain when it first came on, and for the next four days caused enough pain to justify taking some fairly strong pain medication.

I don’t mention this to garner sympathy. I am no longer feeling any discomfort, although, as far as I know, I still carry the stone. The experience caused me to think about one of the prayers we have been reciting during our weekday 8 a.m. service. In the prayer, we thank G-d for the intricate design of our bodies and that our bodies work. The payoff line in the prayer is the acknowledgment that if our bodies did not work, we could not serve G-d. We cannot fulfill our obligations under our covenant with G-d, and our relationship is broken.

In a sense, serving G-d is a luxury. On some level, there is a need for our daily lives to be lived without being overly arduous. If I am inundated by health issues, if I am worried about whether I can put food on the table or whether I am going to have a roof over my head, it is difficult to try and meet the needs of others and, by doing so, to serve G-d.

In the last couple of weeks, our nation and the world have been focused on fighting racial injustice — rightfully so, after 400 years of systemic racism. For whatever reason, the murder of George Floyd has resonated with the nation; racial profiling by police and police brutality have been the catalyst to needed discussion and action regarding racism in our country.

However, racism shows up in a whole host of daily challenges that face the black community and other communities of color. We see this with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately attacked the black and Latinx communities. We see it in the despair and psychological toll that come with diminished job opportunities, lower quality of education, lack of access to decent health care, lack of decent affordable housing, and the food desert faced in neighborhoods in the black community.

So for the few days I could not focus on doing for others, not serving G-d — it pales in comparison to those for whom the enormous burdens of just getting basic necessities and not living lives in a constant state of justifiable fear keep them from doing for others. A favorite thought from one of my teachers, Rabbi Moshe Berger, is that amongst our greatest needs is the need to be needed. Racism is not just an obstacle to receiving basic necessities; it robs one of dignity and a life of fully realized purpose.

On Saturday, June 20, at 5 p.m., and replayed again on Sunday, June 21, at 5 p.m., the Poor People’s Campaign will hold a mass digital gathering. The Poor People’s Campaign is fighting the interlocking evils of (1) racism; (2) economic inequality; (3) militarism — i.e., militarizing our police departments, and the obscene amount of money paid to defense contractors; (4) ecological devastation, which disproportionately impacts communities of color and poor communities; and (5) the immoral narrative of religious nationalism. You can sign up to be a part of the gathering by going to   

Through the present chaos and discord facing our nation, we are seeing a unifying movement that crosses racial, ethnic, religious lines, and lines that discriminate against the LGBTQ community (a special mention during Gay Pride Month). When we look back on this moment in history, G-d Willing we will be able to say we took action, and we were part of meaningful change. Our ability to act is a gift that puts us in relationship with each other, and with G-d.  Let us honor the gift.

Fri, July 3 2020 11 Tammuz 5780