05 June 2020
As we wrap up a challenging week in a challenging season, it feels appropriate to pause and reflect on where we go from here as a community.
I began this week with some personal reflections following the murder of George Floyd. Since then, our community’s feelings of anger, sadness, and loss stemming from the deep divisions and injustices in our country have continued to evolve. Shabbat offers a time for reflection on the magnitude of emotions we are experiencing and what they mean for us as individuals and as a community.
In this moment of simultaneous crises, I am trying to take stock, recognize the multiple feelings I and others hold as we struggle through these challenging times, and ask myself not only where we go from here, but how we get there.
Racism has plagued us for centuries, and it looms large in the midst of the hardest three months our country has experienced in a long time. The number of coronavirus-related deaths, widespread unemployment, and other painful disruptions continue to increase as our nation grapples with the reality of long-standing inequality. At times, it feels that the core of our country is being ripped apart, with few ways to fix the tears.
Even if we don’t know all the ways to fix those tears, we cannot stand aside in this moment. Being a Jewish community means we have a responsibility to respond. The actions we take now to improve and meet the needs of our society will not be perfect. Nor will they be enough. But they are an important step forward.
Individually and collectively we can take a variety of steps. They do not need to be big, but could include reaching out to someone and connecting, learning something new, or gathering virtually or in-person to make a statement of common purpose.
As a community, we can only move forward by engaging and acting on multiple issues at once.
- We must meet the urgent and emergent needs of the vulnerable, the isolated, and those suffering from the economic impact of the pandemic. That is why Federation is partnering with JSSA and local human service organizations to launch a community-wide support line, staffed by JSSA case managers trained to provide support and connect individuals to a full network of assistance during and beyond these challenging times.
- As our response to COVID-19 continues, we remain committed to helping our most vulnerable community members and protecting our vital institutions. To further our understanding of the needs in our community, we are collaborating with researchers at Brandeis University on a new study looking at the impact of the coronavirus on our Jewish community.
- Simultaneously, we must focus on inequality and tackle the injustice of racism. That is why this week, Federation joined with the JCRC and 100 local Jewish organizations to stand in solidarity with the Black community. Though this is just one step forward, it is a critical moment for our Jewish community to stand up for what we believe and value.
This Shabbat, as we consider what it means to be a Jewish community of action in this difficult moment, most of us will have more questions than we have answers. But even without knowing all of the steps we should take, we do know what we stand for. And I believe that our core values of caring for the vulnerable and fighting for justice and equity can help guide us to discovering those steps and translating those values into actionable impact.
Wishing you all a peaceful, meaningful, and restful Shabbat.