07 April 2016
This week’s Torah portion, Tazria, is one of the more difficult to understand, especially for children. Dealing with people with “skin disease” (including leprosy), the portion describes the role of the priests in diagnosing and separating the afflicted individual from others. Ancient understanding of these afflictions often linked the victim’s behavior to the disease, “they must have done something wrong.” The victim was only allowed to return to the community when deemed “pure” again.
Today, we know better than to attribute illness to moral turpitude. Illness is still scary, however, and reflects those times in life when we feel less than perfect. Yet, separation from the community very much remains an issue for those who suffer from disease. How often have we stayed away from someone with a non-communicable illness, further isolating them from much-needed companionship? Community is what our ancestors returned to when deemed healthy. Conversely, today, it is the kindness and compassion of a supportive community which hastens recovery for those who are ill.
As Jews, we have the extraordinary and critical commandment to pursue tikkun olam (repairing the world) by lending both our physical and emotional support to those in need. A thriving community depends on the aspirations of its individual members to be a source of comfort and compassion to one another. At The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, we call this Doing Good. We make this a priority by organizing volunteer opportunities for our community year-round, so we can make a difference to those in need locally, in Israel and around the world.
Join us this Sunday, April 10, as Federation hosts the fifth annual Sara and Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Day, a celebration of Doing Good. More than 10,000 volunteers will gather to participate in more than 200 projects, making a profound impact on the world in which we live. Good Deeds Day is produced in partnership with Federation’s Jconnect, the local Jewish Community Centers, Federation partner agencies, congregations and other organizations. For more information on how you can get involved in Doing Good with Federation, this Sunday and throughout the year, visit jconnect.org/Doing-Good.