Our collective narrative is inextricably linked with communal tragedy. We are a nation born in slavery and forged in a tradition responding to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Torah that keeps us together is one story of overcoming adversity and learning from it. Whenever we return the Sefer Torah to the Aron HaKodesh we say the words taken from the book of Lamentations, “Hashivenu Hashem Elecha Ve-nashuva; Chadesh Yamenu Ke-kedem. Cause us to return to You, and we will return; renew our days as before.”
5782 holds within it many opportunities to demonstrate our communal resilience. As we have time and again, we will adapt to the moment while we strive for our best selves. COVID-19 continues to shape the daily reality of our world and keep us from “the way things were.” We know how to grieve the “way things were,” and hold on to the essential principles and values while renewing those values in our new reality.
May this year hold for us the opportunity to grieve all that we lost, return to our community and our love of God, and “renew our days as before.”
Rabbi Ari Kaiman serves Congregation Shearith Israel.