I am not a medical practitioner. I have no expertise in the spread of infectious disease. I, like you, am living through an unprecedented effort to contain a disease that could have devasting effects on our community. I find it overwhelming. I also find my responsibility as Rabbi frightening. Along with Elaine, Rabbi Graff, and Sarah Miller, I am charged with caring for this community and that has gotten a lot more challenging and confusing.
You will see a more detailed email from Elaine about our response internally over the next few weeks. Here, I want to talk about something I do know about: kindness or hesed. People are going to need caring in ways we never imagined, alleviating loneliness and isolation as we care for those who need help. I believe Kol Emeth can play a key role in caring for our members at a time of crisis. I would like to organize volunteers to help in a few areas of hesed.
First, calling. It would be easy to become self focused right now. Yet I worry about our community. Without in person classes and events, people who rely upon Kol Emeth as one of their places of human contact need to feel loved and seen. Further, we have members impacted in a variety of ways, including families with children now at home, elderly people at risk of severe disease, and so many other reasons why hearing a friendly voice could be uplifting. I want to encourage you to join our calling team. Let’s call each other and stay connected as a community, and let’s make a special point of calling members most likely to need a connection and possibly help. If you made 2 calls a week and inspired those people to call two more people, it would spread love and connection quickly through all of Kol Emeth.
Second, grocery shopping, rides and food deliveries. People may need help getting groceries or other items. Especially for our oldest members, it would be a great kindness to reach out and offer help. If you are willing to make a grocery run for someone or can bring someone meals, or are open to offering rides to someone in need, please click on the link. If you think you need or will need help, similarly follow the link and indicate your need.
Finally, we need to bring kindness into all our interactions. People are stressed and afraid. Appreciate people who are caring for you; recognize the extra stress everyone is experiencing by offering compassion. We can be leaders of caring and help other uncover the inner resources they need to move through this scary moment with grace and love. If we act kindly to others, we can inspire them to do the same. Think how quickly it would spread…
Mystics teach that God sometimes moves from the seat of Mercy to the seat of Judgement. When that happens, destruction and death is unleashed into the world indiscriminately. They believe that our actions of caring for one another can slowly move God back to the seat of Mercy. This feels like such a moment; we must respond with kindness, hesed, and make kindness as viral and contagious as this awful disease.
If you are willing to help in any of the ways above, or have other ideas, please respond and let me know.
May God strengthen and guide our medical providers and help all of us find a path to bring caring and compassion into this moment so that we can push away fear, isolation, and anxiety as we inspire ever more viral acts of love!
Rabbi David Booth