Social distancing still requires mutual concern and persistent attention

The swiftly imposed series of emergency responses to the COVID-19 crisis has contributed to the wildfire spread, in some quarters, of anxiety and dread. In these circumstances, a GAJE update regarding educational affordability might appear to be more vanity than instructive. Thus, we are forgoing the usual weekly update. In its place we simply wish to remind readers during these difficult times to grasp tightly onto the core Jewish values of caring for the weak, the frail and the vulnerable.

In a recent posting on eJewishPhilanthropy, Dr. Haim E. Dahan, the author of “Touches of Grace – Philanthropy and Social Involvement in Israel,” wrote that ‘compassion, charity, kindness and concern for the weak are among the cornerstones of Jewish tradition.’ Of course, Dahan is correct.

Now more than ever, when those among us more susceptible are being urged to self-quarantine, avoid going out and keep to themselves, we must be ever more vigilant to be aware of their respective individual plights and to help them if needed.

Scientists, physicians and social planners advise that “social distancing” is essential to defeating COVID-19. But Judaism, as we know, at its core, is built on values that teach the very opposite of keeping one’s distance from the other.

Ours is a religion that extols social engagement, namely acting always for the wellbeing of the community. In today’s crisis, that means – even as we literally keep our spacial distances from each other – we must still “touch” each other through our mutual concern and by persistent attention to the needs of those among us who are at greater risk.

These, after all, are the values of course that our schools teach our children.

•••

Shabbat shalom. Be well.

GAJE

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