Shabbat Shalom: A Message From National Women's Philanthropy

Shabbat shalom. I hope this pre-Passover Shabbat finds you and your family healthy amid social distancing.

This is the time of year we would all be scurrying to get the last crumb cleaned from our house, cooking for many, setting a beautiful table, having family gather together; and this year is totally different. We are in Florida, where we were trying out being snowbirds, and now two of our kids from Orlando and NYC are with us. As many of you will be doing, we’ll be having a small in-person seder and in some way, gathering the extended family on the computer. But it’s not the same, and the world isn’t the same.

As I was listening to The Forward’s Zoom call of Passover in the Time of Plague, one person asked whether we should still be having Seder at this time. Rabbi Wolpe responded yes, (not quoting exactly) that this Passover is as close to what the Israelites had when they left Egypt. The world we have known and that we were familiar with has disappeared and we are wandering together (virtually) until we come out the other side, to an unknown world.

The original d’var torah I wrote discussed the Haggadah, and how its message is about carrying on traditions and life memories from one generation to another. The Seder is telling the story to our children and grandchildren. We’re creating memories of time together. According to the Pew study, Passover Seder is the most observed holiday tradition, whether you celebrate any traditions the rest of the year or not. Think about this, you may know your great grandparents’ names, but you probably know little about their day-to-day lives. However, most of us know that those people, this week in the Jewish calendar, were sitting down to seder, having matzo, haroset and maror and saying the same blessings that we will say at our table.

There are years our ancestors celebrated in settled times, and others in times of anxiety. This year, we are all here, passing on the story that our children and grandchildren will tell about the time we had seder during the pandemic of 2020.

There is some good that has come out of this. I have had long phone calls with friends to whom I usually say, “Let’s catch up some time soon.” Some of our kids are with us and they’re cooking for us and we’re cooking for them and sharing an extended time together. Our class of National Women's Phlanthropy has had two Zoom calls where we’ve chatted, traded ideas and been supportive of each other.

I’ve realized so many things we take for granted each day: eating out, running to the store, even getting on a plane and getting home, shouldn’t be just taken for granted. In Jewish tradition, there is a blessing for everything. Life had been so fast, that I know I wasn’t thankful enough for all that I had.

Here are some words of wisdom to leave you with today.

From Rabbi Kanefsky at Touro Synagogue

"Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise."

Prayer of Hope During this Pandemic
by Rabbi Naomi Levy

We are frightened, God,
Worried for our loved ones,
Worried for our world.
Helpless and confused,
We turn to You
Seeking comfort, faith and hope.

Teach us God, to turn our panic into patience,
And our fear into acts of kindness and support.
Our strong must watch out for our weak,
Our young must take care of our old.
Help each one of us to do our part to halt the spread of this virus

Send strength and courage to the doctors and nurses
In the frontlines of this battle,
Fortify them with the full force of their healing powers.
Send wisdom and insight to the scientists
Working day and night across the world to discover healing treatments.
Bless their efforts, God.
Fill our leaders with the wisdom and the courage
To choose wisely and act quickly.
Help us, God, to see that we are one world,
One people
Who will rise above this pandemic together.

Send us health God,
Watch over us,
Grace us with Your love,
Bless us with Your healing light.
Hear us God,
Heal us God,

Shabbat shalom and a good Passover, as well as good health for all those you love.

Sandi Fried
Third Year National Women's Philanthropy Board Member