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A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 3/26/21

This morning I am scheduled to receive my second COVID vaccination. I will say a Shehecheyanu afterwards, thanking God that I have survived this past year. But please don’t wish me Mazel Tov.

I am grateful to be inoculated against this plague that has claimed the lives of more than half a million Americans and 2.7 million people around the world. I deeply appreciate the love and support of my loved ones who have sustained me during this pandemic.

I am thankful that I am able to do the vast majority of my rabbinic work while safely distanced at home.

But I feel no sense of triumph receiving my second vaccination. Nor relief.

I am acutely aware that Eve and Rebecca are not yet vaccinated simply because of their age. I am enormously conscious of the millions of Americans who work in places that daily risk exposure to infection. I am cognizant of parents with children at home still struggling mightily to care for them while also doing their jobs. I know that the children in our congregation are like students everywhere. They miss being with their friends and learning in person.

So please refrain from wishing me Mazel Tov on my vaccination. As a country we have so much farther to go until I will feel any sense of joy.

There is a famous saying penned by Emma Lazarus. She wrote, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” As a result of the pandemic, I now more fully understand her intent.

Until we are all vaccinated, we are none of us vaccinated. I do not mean this solely from a medical perspective. More broadly, it means that collectively we have a responsibility to ensure access and support for everyone, especially the most vulnerable in our society.

Tomorrow night we will usher in the festival of Passover. It is a time to recall our liberation from slavery. Yet we must remember that there are far too many who are enslaved by fear, disease, and poverty. May we celebrate our freedom and work to bring justice for those who are oppressed. Until we are all free, we are none of us free. From my heart to yours: Chag Sameach.


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