Memory has a central place in our Jewish heritage. The Torah commands us to “remember Amalek” who viciously attacked the Israelites soon after they had left Egypt. The Torah tells us to“remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” And over and over, the Torah commands us to “remember the stranger” and to guard and protect him/her from those who would do him harm.
Memory: I remember the Holocaust and what was done to my people. I remember the Six Day War. I remember Vietnam, as I do the Civil Rights Movement. I remember 9/11 and the anguish that was brought upon us.
So too, the Covid-19 plague will always have a place in our memory.As individuals and as a congregation, we will never forget the many stresses the coronavirus has brought upon us. And as we remember,the need to remain safe will become one of our chief preoccupations.And further, the inconveniences we are facing because of the closing down of everyday activities such as schools, restaurants, stores and even Sabbath services will, when it’s all over, never let us fully go back to where we were before. We have all been changed, I believe.
And I believe that this will come to an end, sooner or later. And when it does, I’d like to believe that we will value even more the closeness that we share with others. Shaking hands, giving a hug or a kiss—may we never take these gestures of outreach for granted. And when it ends, may we remain aware of how important it is for us to reach out to the people in our lives, and to be present for those who carry a heavy burden.
I hope and pray that this plague will soon end. But I also pray that scientists will quickly develop cures for the stricken and vaccines that will keep us safe in the future. And another prayer: That we will all remain safe and healthy and that, after this ends, we will be able,together, to continue the sacred task of fixing some of the other forms of brokenness that exist in our world….and perhaps in our own lives.
Yes, let us remember this time of confinement and keeping social distance.Let us remember those who continue to risk their lives as they care for the sick. And let us remember the role that each of us has, in ushering in a time of reconsidered values: A time of wholeness for us, for our society,and for our world.
Still the challenge is before us: To live that which is good and worthy in spite of the ordeal we are facing. May we be granted strength and patience as we continue to reach beyond ourselves with love and kindness.