I listened intently to our Federation’s own Rabbi Danny Schiff deliver a D’var Torah to begin a session of our Wechsler Leadership Institute (our young leadership development program) on Zoom on Wednesday night. He made many incredible points, but one ties our current situation directly to this week’s Torah portion, Tazria-Metzorah.
“But if it is a white bahereth on the skin of his flesh, and its appearance is not deeper than the skin, and its hair has not turned white, the kohen shall quarantine the [person with the] lesion for seven days.”
I don’t know exactly what a bahereth is but it does not sound pretty. Danny pointed out that this reference to quarantine appears to be one of the earliest mentions of this tool for saving lives by minimizing social contact and thereby the spread of disease within a community.
This past week, the Holocaust Center presented a beautiful, powerful and meaningful Yom Hashoah commemoration with a huge online crowd and many more who have since watched the recording of it on YouTube. Yom Hazikaron is our opportunity to remember all of Israel’s fallen. While there are many ways to engage with Yom Hazikaron virtually, I would suggest the MASA Israel Yom Hazikaron Memorial Ceremony. Last year, I was privileged to participate in this very program in Jerusalem, along with my son, by laying a wreath with Isaac Herzog in memory of our eleven community members who lost their lives on October 27, 2018. (MASA provides young people with long term Israel experiences and is funded by our Jewish Federation).
Yom Haatzmaut is a time to celebrate Israel’s Independence. I would suggest two ways among the many for your participation. The Federation system has organized an incredible program on Wednesday, April 29th from 2 to 3 pm. Stars like Matisyahu, Josh Malina, the Platt Brothers (think Dear Evan Hansen), and Israeli music star Rita (who I love) will all be performing. For more information, see Yom Ha’atzmaut: A Global Celebration. Additionally, Classrooms Without Borders is holding a unique program on April 30th featuring a discussion about the film Golda with its Producer Udi Nir. You can watch the film prior to the discussion through a link provided after you RSVP.
While I know that this quarantine life is not easy for any of us, our ancestors realized it was one of the strongest tools in our tool belt. Our doing so today ties us to our ancestors. While we are in a state of semi quarantine, we are not alone. We are staying connected with community through virtual programs like the ones I mentioned and to thousands of years of Jewish history and practice.