This is no April fool! This is serious stuff, maybe the most serious in decades. ” Next Year In Jerusalem” will still echo in countless homes. Yet, the echo will be electronic, in many cases. Our Afikomen of normalcy will still be hidden. We are all faced with living in each moment, in each day, knowing that so much is so out of our control. We all will pray the unetaneh tokef next High Holidays with a different verve.
I guess in every seder the additional plague of Covid-19 will be added to the drops of wine. There are already myriads of new prayers and meditations being distributed for inclusion in each seder. It will be a challenge for so many to sit alone, tied to a computer, looking at loved ones and thinking “what if” or “if only”! For those of us “of a certain age” we are also seeing a type of institutional ageism unmatched in our lifetime. Over the last few weeks there has been a quiet increase articles and discussions in the media on rationing of health resources. The “who shall live and who shall die” refrain of that unetaneh tokef is suddenly much more real. Fox commentator Hume and Texas Lt. Governor Patrick have been public about it. Have we, the richest country in the world, come to the stark reality that we must face the grim challenge of making these type of life and death choices? It is frightening reality that may emerge in the coming month.
There is a reported rise in mental health concerns as more people are sheltering in place and isolated and, if there’s not social support system, over time that isolation will raise the curve of depression. Add to the growing challenges of unemployment and financial stress and we can see the recipe for social challenges the likes of which are unprecedented.
Yet, in the midst of this, there have been increasingly stories of heroism. Our health care workers and first responders. Little acts of kindness neighborhood by neighborhood. It is as if, slowly, there is the recognition that, to cite Shavuot 39a, we are all responsible one for the other; that when something happens a half a world away, it does impact us here; that we are really all one inter-connected life form.
Elijah’s cup and that open door represent hope. Each of us will open a door, either physically or symbolically. Maybe it will, as result of this pandemic, be a symbol for a new open door of the soul.Maybe we can take from this collective experience a new reality that we are all this together and that if we allow division and hate to influence us, we contribute to the pre-pandemic “me” centered world of ignorance and the “golden calf” of personal entitlement. The Wilderness experience is the key symbol of our tradition. We are now, in many ways, working our way through this current wilderness. Passover, with its story, symbols and traditions, ultimately ends in hope.
A while ago we posted on the Jewish Sacred Aging Facebook page a prayer/meditation for sheltering in place. Recently, Alden Solovy published another one that he gave us permission to share with you. Alden did record two podcasts for us and they can be heard by going to our Seekers of Meaning section on this page. Alden can be reached via tobendlight.com
Have a sweet, healthy and hopeful Passover. This too shall pass, celebrate those you love and who love you. Do not forget to share the blessings.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min
SHELTERING IN PLACE
May it be Your will God of our fathers and mothers,
That our sheltering in place be for health and healing,
Longevity and life, sustenance, renewal and love.
Let our best selves shine forth in these moments of uncertainty,
These moments of unfamiliar distances,
These moments that may yield stress or conflict,
Confusion or despair.
Let peace arise inside us.
Let kindness flow between us.
Let deliverance rise up from heaven,
And let health and goodwill radiate throughout the world
As a river of blessings.
(c) 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.