Uncertainty abounds amid a global pandemic and at a political crossroads. Our children and grandchildren are in various models of school – face-to-face, remote, and everything in between – aware that a positive COVID-19 test result can call for change at any moment. These are challenging times, to put it mildly.
And yet, these are also opportunities for us – both as individuals and as part of a larger kehillah (Jewish community) – to practice and uphold the very Jewish principles and values we celebrated during Rosh Hashana and recommitted on Yom Kippur. Even when we are stressed, it is imperative we support each other, our community, and the organizations we hold dear.
As you may have read, after many months of having no cases of COVID-19, The William Breman Jewish Home experienced an outbreak which, sadly, has taken eight lives. Together, as a community, we mourn for these individuals, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to their loved ones. We have in our thoughts those who are in the hospital; we are grateful for the caregivers. We are fortunate that Jewish HomeLife is served by leaders who responded quickly, instituting the comprehensive COVID response plan they had prepared months ago. And, while we know that across the country COVID-19 rates have been rising in older adult care communities, agencies are being reassured that this vulnerable population will be among the first to receive a vaccine. Thankfully, the numbers at the Breman Home are steadily declining, and currently there are nine residents and two staff who have tested positive for the virus. They continue to conduct weekly testing and have not had any new positive cases at The William Breman Jewish Home since Nov. 1.
About a month ago, we admitted our shortcomings to G-d and asked Him for forgiveness. We pledged to be better Jews, to be better humans. Our job, as good stewards of the greater Atlanta Jewish community, is to support the Breman Home through this time. Our individual – and collective – response to this news should be one filled with compassion and helpfulness.
Bikur Cholim (visiting the sick) and the shiva ritual is steeped in our Jewish heritage. Unfortunately, the pandemic has brought myriad challenges to observing these traditions in their usual manner. We, as a community, have an opportunity – an obligation as Jews – to support the families who are suffering losses in whatever ways we can. At the very least, we can provide sympathy, empathy and compassion.
Despite the uncertainty we all undoubtedly feel right now, we can cultivate some “best of times” through our responses to events, and through our actions.
Eric Robbins is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.