Today is forty-six days, which is six weeks and four days of the Omer in the year 5780. נצח שבשכינה, Netzach ShebeShekhinah. Eternal Divine Presence.
Houses of Worship Offer No Respite From Disease
I often wonder why religious communities are planning for in-person services at a date in the near future. There is no cure nor treatment for COVID-19. Spiritual gatherings have a proven track record of spreading the disease.
As much as it grieves me, I do not expect to be in a synagogue until a vaccine or effective treatment is found. I am studying to become a rabbi and face the possibility that I will not be in a synagogue during the final two years of my rabbinical training.
I scarcely expect to be near anyone beyond my children and husband for the next two years.
Maintaining Human Connections
Nevertheless, our connections to one another are even more important now. Personally, I need a deep break from Zoom. Something about not knowing where I should look, intensely staring at a screen, it drains me in a way that is soul crushing.
Still, one-to-one conversations feed my soul. Even when speaking to perfect strangers, I find solace in our shared humanity. A few weeks ago, I even ran into the receptionist from my dentist’s office while walking my dog. Which is pretty remarkable, given that my dentist is on the other side of town.
Eternal Divine Presence
Whether with a community or alone, the Eternal Divine Presence yearns to connect with each of us. Even in the midst of a pandemic, we can make space to feel Her Presence, wrap ourselves in Her Embrace.
On the wings of the Shekhinah, we will survive.
Spiritual Care is Available
It is curious that I have not mentioned this before. I am one of the volunteers providing spiritual care through Ruach. The goal of the volunteer organization: “We hope to provide pluralistic, inclusive, and accessible emotional and spiritual support to individuals of all backgrounds and faiths, with an emphasis on serving those who are otherwise unaffiliated or marginalized from the Jewish community.” On a practical level, if you request support, you will be matched with a Jewish spiritual care provider who will meet with you for 30-45 minutes, once a week, for up to six weeks.
It can be quite helpful to have a friendly ear as you think through your emotional and spiritual landscape. This is not therapy — it is the opportunity for your soul to be accompanied briefly during this unprecedented time.
Listen to your own needs
We are being called forth, spiritually cleansing ourselves in preparation for Divine revelation. Shavuot, Weeks, is on the horizon: marking the end of the seven week barley harvest. The seven weeks of harvesting understanding of how the Divine emanates in this world, clarifying how we can be better vessels for holiness and goodness.
Whatever you need: whether that is another call to a friend, more sleep, or one more episode of escapism into the television, listen to your needs. Just don’t forget to sleep, eat, drink water, and walk your dog (if you have one.)