Take a Breath. Shabbat is Here.

Take a Breath. Shabbat is Here.

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

It’s been 100 years since a pandemic once threatened our way of life. We have no personal experience with it, and the world has changed so much since then that almost nothing from it can help us now. However, we’re not without brilliant resources. We live in one of the most advanced cities in the country, if not the world, and our medical center is world-class.

So, let’s begin with a collective breath. Then let’s count on what we know. We know that Houston’s medical experts have urged us to stay home, practice physical distancing, and be aware of symptoms that might need testing. We also know that this is not a short-term experience; rather, we are looking at a minimum of 6-8 weeks of major alterations to our way of life. From a Jewish point-of-view, it’s imperative that we commit to practicing these and other guidelines from our medical community. Judaism cherishes life and regards saving a life as a higher priority than even keeping Shabbat.

What we don’t know is also significant. Just as we’re racing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, experts are racing create a vaccine or other therapies to stop it. The best and worst outcomes are both terrible, so we have to take responsibility for immediate changes to our personal and professional routines. Those who don’t take it seriously are actually jeopardizing those who are vulnerable, including those over the age of 60, and those who have underlying conditions. Therefore, it’s a religious imperative to honor life by saving life through extra care not to hug, be too close, and to wash hands and surfaces.

At Congregation Beth Israel, we take all of these issues seriously. Our weekly news will also include how to engage on the internet to learn, worship, meet, and cope. In this Enews edition, many links are included so you can be part of Beth Israel’s community of friends. Most important, if you need to reach a member of the clergy team, we can call or meet online as soon as possible.

Let’s work together. Let’s aim for health and healing. Let’s look forward to this Shabbat as a time for many collective breaths and hours of physical and emotional rest. Such a gift is Shabbat, especially now. From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.