In helfman, Our Virtual Mishkan

Pikuach Nefesh

News cycles move on, as the new tragedy of the moment seizes our attention. Stories of isolation replace those of systemic racism, and then pushing away isolation comes sensationalist claims of voter suppression and then headlines of hard economic times and now visions of hope for vaccinations.

But just because an issue has had its moment in the spotlight, it doesn’t mean that it has been addressed, and society has been changed.

There is so much that is asking for our time, and the same is true of Jewish values.  Shabbat is pressing – supporting Jews in Israel and around the world is pressing – finding the right way to volunteer in our community is pressing.

When we are overwhelmed, I hope we are able to take a breath, relax and re-centre ourselves.

To ask ourselves: What really matters? What is the core value? What is most important?

In Judaism, there are a few top contenders – family, Justice (Tzedek) and Shabbat are everpresent on my list.  But the top spot is clear:  Pikuach Nefesh – to save a life.

This means getting the right funding for our revered elders to have the support they need.

And this means looking at the way our society is structured so that each and every member of society is given the best chance possible at life.  Our Anti-Racism Reading and Discussion Group is reading “So you want to talk about race” by Ijeoma Oluo.

When things get difficult for ourselves or others, we can dial 911. Fire – the fire truck comes.  Medical – paramedics arrive.   And armed robbery is met with armed police.  But we know that when someone is having a mental health episode, and armed police arrive, they are not always the best people to de-escalate the situation and move it towards a resolution.  I know that if my loved ones are in this situation, I would feel more comfortable having a trained mental health worker respond.

Join our Luke Sklar Mental Health initiative, and our Anti-Racism Group, together with Beth Tzedec Congregation for an update as a plan to build this responders service is coming soon before City Hall.

Even as the news cycle has moved on, and other important conversations are battling for your attention, I hope you will make time to think about what values are most important to you – and how we can align as a community to help those values come to life.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Most Recent Projects