Thursday, March 12, 2020

As I’ve shared with you in the past, Rav Soloveitchik taught that in response to challenging times, the only useful question to ask is not “Why?” but “What now?” Of course we must do what we can to lower our risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus, and to mitigate its spread. But the real, inspirational response to this unprecedented communal challenge is found in the stories below.
Wishing all of us a Shabbat of recovery, health, and peace.
~ Rabbi Weinstock

From Dozens of volunteers spread out across Westchester County, NY on Purim, to read the Megillah at over 130 locations where Jewish residents are currently in quarantine.
Organized by Chabad of Westchester County, located in New Rochelle, the epicenter of New York’s coronavirus outbreak, groups of bochurim and men were sent to read the Megillah and bring Purim joy to those in quarantine.

Fear of the spread of the coronavirus - 82 people have been infected in Westchester County - had upended Purim plans in the entire area, with Megillah readings and events canceled.
Shlucha Rochel Butman coordinated dozens of volunteers to fan out across the area to make sure anyone who needed would be able to fulfill the Mitzvah of Megillah from their homes.
Working with medical professionals, they devised a set of guidelines for volunteers to make sure they stay safe and protected while doing this Mitzvah.

All volunteer readers remained outside of the home of the quarantined individuals and maintained a distance of 10-15 feet.

Residents were grateful and moved by the volunteer bochurim who took the time to visit and help them fulfill the Mitzvah, many times ending with a festive Purim dance to liven the streets.
“I have never cried during the opening brachos of Megillas Esther before,” Gary Berger, one of the quarantined residents wrote on Facebook. “Overwhelmed with emotions, we are eternally grateful to Chabad of Westchester for pulling off the miracle of having individual readings on hundreds of patios and lawns across New Rochelle.

“May the Zechus of this amazing Mitzvah lead to a complete Refuah shelaima for all of our friends and families.”

“These Chabad boys are amazing! They stopped some people of our street, who they thought were Jewish, unaffiliated, and offered to read to them. They said yes!” another one wrote.
“I just want to let you, Chabad and the community know that we just received a call from our Irish Catholic neighbors. They called to tell us how inspired they were last night by the Chabad boys. (They could hear it from their window at 11:30 pm.) The wife told us she started to cry when she saw and heard it and how amazing our community is and how nice it was,” another wrote.

From The Daily Portion by Sivan Rahav Meir: “Shalom Sivan, this is Levi Mendelzon from Chabad. I am writing on behalf of a Megillat Esther reading project for those quarantined by the coronavirus. When we began this project a week ago, we could not have imagined that so many people would be forced to enter home quarantine and would ask to hear the Megillah. Reading the Megillah under these circumstances was utterly surrealistic: to stand in the stairwell of an apartment building, to press the light switch continuously so it would not go out, and to read the Megillah for just one quarantined listener; to stand under a window and loudly read the Megillah in the street for a single quarantined individual listening from that window. It was extremely emotional to see how these people would not give up on hearing the Megillah. Not on YouTube, but in person.
Today, we are used to sending everything on WhatsApp, but tonight we saw that there is significance in physical proximity, in recitation of the Megillah directly from one person to another. The listeners' emotional reaction to this personal connection reminded me that one of the purposes of Purim is to connect with one another through the mitzvot of the day: the Purim feast, the reading of the Megillah, mishloach manot, and gifts for the poor. I call upon all of us to find those around us who are isolated, and not only because of the coronavirus. This can be someone who is a little neglected, for example, and send that person mishloach manot. Have a Happy Purim."

No comments:

Post a Comment