Letter to the Community – April 7, 2020

Dear Friends: 

These days, conversations and newsfeeds fixate on numbers. We total the days apart from loved ones in self-isolation, add up disease hot-spots around the world, assess the rates of unemployment, and devastatingly, count the lives affected and lost due to COVID-19. 

In our collective efforts to save lives by staying home, we have lost routines and milestones. Despite the tallies all around us, our days lack specific markers, and it’s easy to lose track of time. One day blends into the next and suddenly we are weeks into this new normal. 

This week, we welcome the beginning of Passover. There are clear connections between our current experiences and the themes of the Passover story – plague, captivity, yearning for better times. But another highly relevant Jewish ritual starts this week. Counting the Omer—literally counting the days between Passover and the festival of Shavuot, seven weeks later—guides us to acknowledge each day, note the passing of time, and reorient ourselves to our newfound freedom from slavery.  

There’s another side to all the counting in these unusual days. What if instead of counting toilet paper rolls, we counted the numbers of lives we’ve impacted for the good? Elders we have called. Neighbors to whom we’ve waved a warm, socially distant hello. Vulnerable people for whom our giving has put food on the table.  

During this seven-week Omer, each week is said to represent a certain characteristic that resonates as much in our current day as they did thousands of years ago. The first week is known for acts of loving kindness. What timing. The very deeds that matter most now. 

Guided by our Director of Jewish Education Chaya Gilboa and our Director of Strategy Jessica Kort, we’ll be featuring each weekly Omer characteristic in our regular communications. We hope to draw strength from ancient traditions that continue to inspire.   

We are so fortunate to be part of communities where acts of loving kindness are taking place in abundance. Thank you for stepping up with your volunteerism, philanthropy and inspiration. 

We know we can count on it! 

Wishing you and yours good health,