This season, from the opening of the month of Nisan through the forthcoming Pesach holiday, is known in our tradition as z’man cheiruteynu—the time of our liberation. As the natural world blooms with the rebirth of spring, we prepare for the sacred journey out of Egypt toward freedom and the Promised Land.
As many have noted, the Hebrew word for Egypt—Mitzrayim—means “a narrow place.” In our current strange and challenging circumstances, as we continue our physical distancing due to the COVID 19 virus, many of us feel that sense of confinement viscerally. We worry for our loved ones, and for ourselves. We see pain and suffering, and sometimes feel powerless to avert it.
I have no easy answers. At CABI, we are learning together, as we go. We are exploring new ways to reach out to one another. And we are very open to your ideas and suggestions. Let us know how we can help. I’m proud of how our community has responded over the last two weeks. I have seen an outpouring of generosity, a hunger for real connection, and an extraordinary resilience. I believe that when life eventually returns to whatever the new “normal” will be, our community will be profoundly strengthened by what we learn. We are growing, together, and will continue to do so in the days and weeks to come.
In the meantime, though, let us recognize that the pain and suffering is not distributed evenly. Life is, as always, unfair; indeed, the inequity is, if anything, magnified by the crisis.
I am, therefore, reaching out to you with a request relating to the recently-approved federal stimulus package. Many of us who will receive a significant check from the government—including me and my family—are privileged not to need it. I am grateful to have enough. For others, however, that subsidy will be far too little, a pittance for those left without work, struggling to pay for food, rent, and basic services. And for some, like most of the homeless and those who are not US citizens, there will be no money at all.
I am, therefore, urging our CABI family to work together to create more justice in this crisis. If you do not need your subsidy money, I am asking you to donate it to support those who need it dearly. I’d like to suggest four possibilities.
Create Common Good and Life’s Kitchen are working with our own Jodi Peterson-Stigers to provide food for our community’s homeless through Interfaith Sanctuary during this crisis. You can support them here:
Jesse Tree works in partnership with the City of Boise to prevent our must vulnerable tenants from falling into homelessness. You can support them here:
Last but decidedly not least, the Jewish Assistance Fund of Idaho (JAFI) provides for those in need within our own Jewish community—and in the current circumstances, we expect that need to be considerable. You can support JAFI here:
I believe with all of my heart and soul that when this crisis has passed, we will be judged by how we treated the most vulnerable among us. May we rise to the occasion as the Jewish people have, time and again, throughout our long history.
May this week bring strength and healing to us all.