A Rabbinic Letter to the Minnesota Jewish Community,
Shabbat is approaching, and the week of Thanksgiving will come with a flurry of emotion. As Covid-19 restrictions tighten, the Minnesota Rabbinical Association continues to affirm it is safest to connect virtually rather than in person for ritual and lifecycle events. This pandemic continues to spread rapidly. We recall the story of the man, traveling by boat with others, who decides to begin drilling a hole beneath himself. His traveling companions asked what he was doing. “Why do you care?” he responded. “I’m just drilling a hole under my seat!” (Midrash Rabbah, Vayikra 4:6). We are responsible for one another.
Vulnerable populations, who faced limitations before Covid-19, face even more severe isolation. Doctors, nurses, and other front-line workers are stretched thin. Those who live with others and those who live alone face a variety of challenges. With such uncertainty, we are reminded of the vital counseling resources that are available through Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis and Jewish Family Service of St. Paul and pastoral care offered by rabbis and cantors in congregations and organizations across Minnesota. We are here for you, and there are places to turn for spiritual and emotional support. It is healthy to notice the challenges, not run from or deny them, and decide how to find an anchor one day at a time. We have included a prayer for healing below.
As we recall our responsibility for one another, please use this time to check in on loved ones and neighbors. Please check in with your own needs. Each Friday evening we welcome the traditional angels of peace with the words of “Shalom Aleichem.” The last stanza in the Ashkenazi version asks the angels to depart in peace, “tzeitchem l’shalom.” We pray in the Sephardi version that the angels stay with us a little longer in peace, “shivtechem l’shalom.”
May such angelic presence fill the empty chairs at our tables and bring us peace.
The Minnesota Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Jill Crimmings and Rabbi Aaron Weininger, Co-Chairs
Rabbi Debra Rappaport, Vice Chair
Elohei Refuah, God, Source of Healing:
As our state sets daily records of Covid-19, we pray for healing of body for all suffering and strength to the hands of those who give care and counsel. Allow our prayer to You to be met with action by us. Grant us the resolve to take steps to curb the spread and not grow weary in the face of fatigue. Hear our voices with compassion, and let us say: Amen.