Chazak, Chazak, V'Nitchazeik - March 19 2021

In Jewish tradition throughout the year we read a portion of the Five Books of Moses each week so that we complete all five books each year. This tradition came to mind as I watched, listened and read all of the stories about us completing a full year of living with COVID.

Posted
March 22, 2021
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Chazak, Chazak, V'Nitchazeik - March 19 2021

In Jewish tradition throughout the year we read a portion of the Five Books of Moses each week so that we complete all five books each year. This tradition came to mind as I watched, listened and read all of the stories about us completing a full year of living with COVID.

Posted
March 22, 2021

"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." ~Coretta Scott King

JFS Friends – 

In Jewish tradition throughout the year we read a portion of the Five Books of Moses each week so that we complete all five books each year. In the course of the year, each time we complete one of the books of the Torah we say, “Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazeik!” which roughly translates to “Be strong, be strong and we will strengthen one another.”

This tradition came to mind as I watched, listened and read all of the stories about us completing a full year of living with COVID. As we finish this chapter in our lives and prepare to turn the page and begin a new chapter it is worth taking a few moments to recognize the strength that it took for each of us to make it to this milestone and to recognize that going forward will also require us to support one another to face the challenges of moving forward to the next phase of recovery.

Research into stress reminds us that happy events like getting married and starting a new job are also sources of stress often equal to negative events. So, although we all have been wishing for the day when a vaccine would be available and we all can begin to gather together again, this transition will come with its own set of challenges and stresses. How many people can be together at once? Can people who are vaccinated gather with people who are not yet vaccinated? For a year we have all been hearing that it is not safe to be in groups – how can we overcome our anxiety and fear as we begin to gather again?

It is hard not having all of the answers but there is one thing that I am certain of – that the answer will be found in us coming together as a community to strengthen and help one another. Working together our community has met the challenge of floods, hurricanes and winter freezes. Our community is resourceful, resilient and strong and when we work together we all become stronger.

There is a beautiful story that is often attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok that explains the difference between heaven and hell.

“One day a man said to God, “God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.”
God showed the man two doors. Inside the first one, in the middle of the room, was a large round table with a large pot of vegetable stew. It smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water, but the people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.
The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. God said, “You have seen Hell.”
Behind the second door, the room appeared exactly the same. There was the large round table with the large pot of wonderful vegetable stew that made the man’s mouth water. The people had the same long-handled spoons, but they were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.
The man said, “I don’t understand.”
God smiled. It is simple, he said, the difference is love for one another. Here in Heaven these people learned early on to share and feed one another.”

I can’t yet tell you exactly how we will all meet the challenges that lie ahead but I do know that the solution will include taking care of one another and our community and -the good news is that here at JFS we are already experts at that.

Wishing each of you a peaceful Shabbat filled with time for rest, renewal and time shared with people that you care about.

Shabbat Shalom,

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

Chief Operating Officer

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