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Thoughts for a Thursday

06/04/2020 09:14:54 AM

Jun4

Rabbi Jamie Arnold

A very severe plague. Quarantining in response to contagions. A family divided over racial tensions, social inequities, and abuses of speech. The communal gathering ‘space’ goes mobile. Horn blowing and howling gets ritualized. A call for calm and rest. The people get fed up and protest, the ‘powers that be’ get all fiery. Dismay and a sense of helplessness abound. Leaders and elders called upon to step up and light the way through the dark times. The events described in this week’s Torah portion, b’haalot’acha (Numbers 8-12) may look and sound eerily familiar to us this week.

A very severe plague (Num. 11:33). Over 100,000 confirmed human deaths in the US related to the novel coronavirus Covid-19, and over 6 million confirmed cases and 380,000 confirmed deaths worldwide – each one leaving behind grieving family, friends, and caregivers. On the one hand, a global pandemic that knows no national boundaries and transcends our political and cultural differences can unite humankind. On the other hand, this global pandemic has highlighted and perhaps exacerbated preexisting racial and economic disparities, especially here in the US.

And the people took to complaining bitterly (Num. 11:1). As a result of systemic and persistent racial and economic injustices, black Americans are far more likely to contract the covid-19, and by some reports twice as likely to die from it than white Americans. People of color are also far more likely to be profoundly impacted, even existentially threatened, by the economic impacts of the pandemic. George Floyd was one of millions who were laid off from his job since March. And now, in response to his preventable death at the hands of a team of law enforcement officers, millions are marching in protest.

We are angry. We are grieving. We feel isolated and helpless. And we long for healing, connection, and ways to help build from these ashes a more just, civil, and equitable society. In response to similar circumstances, our ancestors invested in sacred community – pooling together our anger, grief, and longing as well as our commitment, passions, and talents to effect personal, social, and societal transformation for the better. That’s what community and CBE are all about.

A call for calm and rest.  And so we gather, not as we once did, but in new ways – to feed our varied appetites.  On Friday mornings for 19 nourishing minutes of simple melodies and meditations and a short teaching.  Join me every Friday morning at 9 AM MDT for a virtual serving of “AlephBet Soup for the Soul.” (Register here)

Let’s gather, regroup, and renew – we’re here with you.

Mon, April 12 2021 30 Nisan 5781