In Judaism, nothing is more precious than human life. We even have a special halachik category,
pikuach nefesh, which allows for nearly everything else in Judaism to be overridden to preserve, and protect, human life. There have been many times in recent memory when we have noted that we are in a unique and unprecedented moment in Jewish history. This moment, unfortunately, is yet another one that we will add to that list.
Earlier today, you received a message announcing that, for the foreseeable future, we are suspending all religious services at Olam Tikvah: Shabbat, evening and morning minyan. We are doing this both in accordance with the guidelines set out by our governing officials, but also with the moral and religious certitude that in doing so we are ensuring, to the best of our ability, the health and well-being of all.
We also recognize that in suspending communal gatherings and services there will be those in need of the comfort our tradition brings to their lives. We are in a deeply meaningful Jewish conversation in which we are looking for the best ways to honor our loved ones when ten people are physically unable to be in the same space together.
Below is a selection from psalm 18, verses that can be read when Kaddish is unable to be said, meant to give a small measure of comfort to those who need it.
This evening we ask that as individuals, and as a community, you take a moment at 8pm, the time when we would normally begin our evening minyan, and recite the passage below. For those in mourning or observing a yahrzeit, we hope that it brings some extra comfort to know that even when we cannot stand together, our hearts and spirits are still with you, and for those not in mourning, there can be no greater mitzvah than to alleviate the suffering and sadness of our fellow Jews.
Praying for health and strength,
Rabbi David Kalender and Rabbi Evan Ravski
:עִם־חָסִיד תִּתְחַסָּד עִם־גְּבַר תָּמִים תִּתַּמ
:עִם־נָבָר תִּתְבָּרָר וְעִם־עִקֵּשׁ תִּתְפַּת
:כִּי־אַתָּה עַם־עָנִי תוֹשִׁיעַ וְעֵינַיִם רָמוֹת תַּשְׁפ
:כִּי־אַתָּה תָּאִיר נֵרִי ה' אֱלֹהַי יַגִּיהַּ חָשְׁכִּי
:כִּי־בְךָ אָרֻץ גְּדוּד וְבֵאלֹהַי אֲדַלֶּג־שׁו
הָאֵל תָּמִים דַּרְכּוֹ אִמְרַת ה צְרו
:מָגֵן הוּא לְכֹל הַחוֹסִים בּוֹ
With the Loyal, You deal loyally; With the blameless, blamelessly.
With the pure, You act purely, and with the perverse, You act wily.
It is You who will save the afflicted people; But haughty eyes You humble.
It is You who light my candle; Adonai, my God, lights up my darkness.
With You, I can rush a barrier, with my God I can scale any wall;
The way of God is perfect; The word of Adonai is pure;
God is a shield to all who seek refuge.