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The Omicron Surge - a message from Rabbi Katie

01/12/2022 03:29:38 PM

Jan12

When I spoke to you this past Yom Kippur about the feeling of being like the Talmudic Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai sent “back to the cave” with Delta, I had no idea what was in store for us just a few months later. Yet the possibility was foreseeable to those ready to face it: the world might just be stuck in this pandemic till we muster the resources and will to provide vaccinations and combat misinformation worldwide. And here we are.

The past few weeks, for the first time in the pandemic, I have been hearing about many of our own community members and their families who are testing positive for COVID. Thank God to this point I am not hearing of anyone falling seriously ill.  But to those of you who are grappling with COVID in your households, please let me or our chesed committee know if you find yourselves in need – whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or moral support: Rabbi@orshalom.org

This current surge makes me thankful for so much, including the wisdom that has led Or Shalom to greet the pandemic cautiously. At this time, we have moved almost all of our programs back to an online format with the exception of lifecycle events such as our B'nai Mitzvah services. We even just got word that the outdoor MLK march Monday morning has been canceled this year. When we do gather, we are taking many precautions, asking for sign ups and requiring masks, social distancing and vaccination for those who are eligible, as well as testing for those who have roles on the bima.

We hope that soon we can emerge again to gather in person for services and more, but meanwhile, I encourage you to stay connected by showing up for some of our regular online gatherings like kvetch, kvell, and kandicraft, our Thursday morning study sessions, a Friday evening service, or our upcoming Tu B’Shvat online seder with the Southside Collaborative.

It’s not an easy moment, and there is much to tempt us all into anger and despair.  But things really are better than they were a year ago with the pandemic. For those who are vaccinated and boosted, the worst case scenario is much improved. And with all of our hard experience behind us, we actually know what to do and what not to do to minimize our exposure.

If you have not come down with COVID during this surge, I urge you to stay vigilant and take extra precautions at this time. While Omicron may be milder for those who have been vaccinated, our healthcare system is under tremendous strain and needs us all to do our part to slow the spread. The effects of long COVID are still unknown, and there are still children under 5 and those with medical vulnerabilities who are not yet protected. They depend on all of us to do what we can for their sake.  

Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been guided by the Jewish wisdom that values human life above all else, as it is written in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a): Whoever saves a single life is considered by scripture to have saved the whole world. By continuing to choose a path of caution and responsibility, we may well be saving lives in this moment, whether that means waiting a little longer to be in crowded indoor public spaces or taking our social lives outdoors.

As we continue our path through these troubled times, I pray that all of us will find moments of gratitude each day to sustain us. May we all find the strength to practice patience, knowing that this will not last forever, and may we remember that we are not alone.  
  
Rabbi Katie

Thu, January 20 2022 18 Shevat 5782