Rabbi Sid Swartz is an author, and founder of a congregation in Bethesda Maryland. He writes, “It is ironic that the Coronavirus actually started in this country around the time of the Jewish holiday called Purim.” You may remember that Purim celebrates the life of Esther, but the word Purim actually means “lottery” when you translate it from Hebrew into English. The irony comes from the fact that sometimes it does feel like “we are engaged in some dark national lottery”, Rabbi Swartz says.
It is already starting to feel like the coronavirus is getting closer. Perhaps you know someone famous who has been sick with this virus, or perhaps you know someone close to you who has tested positive. But, it now seems quite likely, even inevitable, that we all will eventually know someone who is seriously ill.
This feeling of shared vulnerability is starting to set in, even on the Cape. And no spot in the country, however remote, seems to be far enough removed. The sense of danger has prompted another impulse, the impulse to reach out, the impulse for connection even during social distancing. Folks are calling loved ones, setting up chats with cousins across the country, and letting people know how much they love them. This feeling of vulnerability has prompted some others to reach out to help those who are less fortunate.
Rabbi Schwartz says that this is a time when we must try to “show up” for one another. I quote him because I agree.
For some, the first impulse when the Coronavirus became real was to pull up the drawbridges and stay safe in this country. But in our world today there is no way to segregate ourselves from others. While some may feel an impulse to try to create distance through isolation, we are discovering that as we head into the eye of this storm on the East Coast of the US, we are seeing a remarkable spirit of cooperation. Washing State governor Jay Inslee sent 400 ventilators to New York, and California Governor Gavin Newsome sent 500 ventilators and Oregon Governor Kate Brown sent 140.
As it turns out, China has become a vital supplier of masks, ventilators and other hospital equipment. So we cannot afford the luxury of shutting down the world marketplace even if our initial fears created that impulse.
If there is something positive that emerges from this experience it might be our realization that we are entwined as a human race. Our safety and security is all tied up with the safety and security of people on the other side of the world. Our health is integrally connected to everyone’s health. There is no border that has kept this coronavirus out. That impulse to isolate is actually a dangerous one.
You may wonder why I quote a rabbi on Holy Week. But Jesus’s Last Supper was a Passover. Our Eucharist was born at a Jewish celebration. Our shared faith is one fabric with many threads. We are one body with many parts. The sooner we see that the sooner we understand Christ’s vision for how God’s kingdom unfolds.
Holy Week blessings,