I began writing to address the need to limit gatherings for ‘non-essential’ events when I heard about the fire in the social hall. It struck me that there are no non-essential gatherings for us. Every time we gather, we generate a spirit, a vibrancy and a relevance that simply cannot be duplicated across the digital void. A series of zeros and ones cannot substitute for a series of handshakes and hugs. Yet, we must face reality and recognize that our community contains a diverse population including elders and members of the vulnerable population, including people on medication, on ventilators and pre and post surgical candidates, among others.
Governor Jared Polis wrote in his declared Colorado state of emergency that recognizing “our role in helping lead the effort to help limit the potential spread of this virus locally… (means) those over 60 and those with chronic health issues are urged to avoid public gatherings.” However, those may be the people who are in the greatest need of socialization.
Most of us, like most of the cognizant world, are under stress from both an economic meltdown and the coronavirus proliferation. Our Temple community is handling additional stress from a confluence of attacks against our property directly and against our beliefs and identity as a result of those attacks.
We each approach this time and situation from our own perspective and with our separate resources. As I change the channels, I hear quite diverse information being espoused both within the United States and especially from abroad, about what is happening and how to approach it. We cannot control what is happening, except at an individual level, but we can control how we react to it. It is appropriate to be fearful, but not of each other. Now is the time to use our well honed skills of sharing with and listening to one another without condemnation or becoming offended.
So while we are being asked to build physical boundaries between us, 3 feet is the current recommendation, we need to continue to build bridges across the community, reaching out by phone or electronically to stay in touch and to check in, particularly with those in our vulnerable population. As a hugger, this feels like an immense loss, but losing members of our community would be a much bigger one. I will give up hugging to limit the number of names added to the Mi Sheberach list.
I don't know of a community that is more aware of or responsive to one another's needs. Other people are reaching out to assist us and we will continue to function even while our building is under repair. Meanwhile, we can be grateful that once again, no one was injured and the sanctuary was spared.
I appreciate all the work done behind the scenes by our board to keep Temple Emanuel up, running and serving the Jewish community of Pueblo and the surrounding area. I am thankful for the participation and support of all our members as well as our non-member support system and community.
May God grant us peace and understanding. May our world and the inhabitants upon it be blessed with rafuah shalaymah, a complete and speedy healing. May your Shabbat be filled with comfort and light.
Rabbi Birdie Becker