Finding Blessings - December 31, 2020

Carl reflects on what it means to be part of our community of caring during a year of challenges.

Posted
December 31, 2020
Quotation from Henry David Thoreau: "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."

Finding Blessings - December 31, 2020

Carl reflects on what it means to be part of our community of caring during a year of challenges.

Posted
December 31, 2020
JFS Friends -
In the book of Bamidbar (Numbers) we read of the story of Balaam – a sorcerer that was hired by an enemy of the Jewish people to curse them and cause them harm. Through a series of interesting events (including a talking donkey) Balaam’s eyes and heart are opened and he sees the Jewish people for who they are and finds that he is unable to curse them and – in fact – blesses them instead. Part of his blessing (Numbers 24:5) survives today in our liturgy in the Mah Tovu prayer.
“How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob,
Thy dwellings, O Israel!”
What did Balaam see when he looked down at the encampment of the Jewish people that inspired him to bless the people? In the Talmud we are taught that part of what he saw was that the doors of their tents did not exactly face one another so that each family could have privacy. In other words, he saw that even in difficult situations the community organized itself in a way that was sensitive to the needs of others.
This story from the Torah came to mind recently as I was reflecting on the year 2020. In many ways it may seem like the year was sent to curse us – we struggled as a community with the impact of COVID on our health, our financial wellbeing and the psychological burden of social isolation. In the end, however, the challenges we faced ended up revealing the blessings that come from living as part of a caring community. In the midst of all of these challenges, like the arrangement of the tents that reflected care and concern for their neighbors – our community faced challenging times in a way that maintained our sensitivity and concern for the needs of others.
In 2020 we saw:
  • Synagogues, churches and mosques find ways to stay connected to their faith communities and maintain safe places for religious observance and life-cycle events
  • JFS transformed our delivery model to allow us to see clients without interruption and continue to meet the needs of our community
  • Healthcare workers meeting the challenges and heroically finding ways to continue to care for those facing illness in a safe way
  • Researchers continuing their work and bringing us a vaccine that carries with it the hope for an easier rode ahead
  • Families and friends finding ways to stay connected and continue to support one another
My personal belief is that events like pandemics and floods are simply a part of nature and are not sent as punishments. I see the hand of God in the world through the caring actions of people rallying together to lift up those in need. Part of letting go of the year that is ending is allowing ourselves the time and space to grieve for the losses we experienced. I hope that we will also find the space to be grateful for all of the ways that we came together to care for one another during a challenging time.
Thank you for being part of our community of caring and for all that you did – and continue to do – to help us lift up the community.
Image that reads: Life is a series of peaks and valleys. If we are to ascend to the next peak, we will have to navigate the often tricky terrains of the valleys.

Happy New Year!
Carl
Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

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