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Activities and in-person religious services have been suspended out of concern for congregant and community health.
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Let's elbow in.

03/05/2020 04:25:58 PM

Mar5

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

A good example of the reliance by too many on social media for facts is the current spread of the Coronavirus. I have no doubt that there are those that feel that our government’s response has been insufficient, that information will empower us to make intelligent and informed choices.  Just witness the run this past weekend on basic supplies. Stores ran out of soap, Purell, Lysol, wipes, and various paper products. Facts have become blurred, and when faced with a pandemic, some will respond excessively, even panic. There must be a middle ground, featuring common-sense approaches on what is practical at this time. A lack of clarity coupled with duplication of sources can make it impossible to understand what is truth.

We do know for certain that we must wash our hands for twenty seconds. This is not new; it has always been known, but ignored. Unless someone with a transmittable disease sneezes or coughs into your face, the more likely transmission is from germs that our hands come into contact with.  Our hands touch our faces many times per day, increasing the likelihood of becoming infected. Hand washing is a simple method to reduce that potential.

Our tradition teaches us the following adage: Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh. All of Israel is responsible for one another. The lesson learned from the tragic story of Cain and Abel is that indeed, we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers. When a fellow Jew has a financial hardship, we help. When a fellow Jew has health challenges, we help. When a fellow Jew suffers a loss, we help.

When we have the potential to avoid spreading germs, we do so. To that end, effective immediately, when I greet anyone during Shabbat, be it before services, during the Torah procession, after an Aliyah, or at Kiddush, I will bump elbows in lieu of a handshake. If you have been in synagogue on a Shabbat when I have had a cold, this is my normal practice. I ask that all of us adopt this temporary greeting until such time as the CDC informs us otherwise. This is not intended to raise undue fear of attending synagogue services at this time. It is merely precautionary, and fulfilling the mandate of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh. The L’chayim Club will continue to meet weekly, as the alcohol is indeed an antiseptic.  I hope and pray that effective leadership in Washington DC, coupled with leading authorities on the subject, will steward us through the next months with wisdom and guidance.

 

Tue, March 31 2020 6 Nisan 5780