A Message to Congregation Etz Hayim

Dear Congregation Etz Hayim,

This week we read parashat Tazria. Next week, parashat Metzora. It was exactly around this parashiot that we changed our lives to protect each other and shelter in place two years ago.

As I read these texts again this year, I have mixed feelings. I feel hopeful yet afraid. Optimistic while holding back. I count multiple blessings on my life right now while seeing our world being destroyed outside my little bubble.

While the disease described in this week’s parasha might have been understood literally in some contexts, the Midrash allows us to expand its meaning. Tzara’at, the skin disease, may refer to emotional or psychological distress as well. In the classic midrashic style, our rabbis teach: don’t read tzara’at as a skin disease, but rather tzarot (tzures, in Yiddish) meaning trouble and distress. A play on words only possible in the Hebrew language opens our hearts to empathy and compassion for all who are struggling right now.

While we are making progress in reopening our society on this side of the world, it is hard to imagine that at the same time many others are still struggling for many different reasons.

COVID-19 is not over, and people are still dying because of it. While some of us are willing to take some risks, given the high vaccination rates and low hospitalization in our area and, I want to remind ourselves to stay vigilant about it, wearing masks where required or recommended, washing our hands, and following all the health protocols we all became so much used to.

For a few weeks a shared some updates about the situation of our sister communities in Ukraine, affiliated with the Masorti/Conservative. 

Here are the latest updates with the work we were able to support through our donations.

If you have not donated yet and would like to support the work our movement is doing over there, click here.

It was shared with me by CEH members that Radoslaw Kaczor, former CEH preschool parent, is conducting this GoFundMe campaign. You can click here to read his story and support his campaign as well.

We share our prayers with all those affected by the current war in Ukraine, directly or indirectly. Given the nature of our region, some of our own CEH community members’ work is also directly affected by it. We see you and we are here for you.

In our parasha, we see a unique role performed by the cohen, the priest, in response to the challenges of the community. Upon the diagnose of tzara’at, a person was isolated for seven days. After this period of isolation, it was up to the cohen to go out of the camp and visit the person to check in before coming back.

As part of the rabbinic revolution that occurred almost 2000 years ago, many important priestly roles were taken upon by the rabbis. I want to take this opportunity to invite each one of you to reach to me, if you want. Whether a simple check in or chat about anything more relevant going on, I’m here for you. We are all facing similar and different challenges at the same time. We are all still coming out of some kind of isolation and I want to be there for you if you need me.

Here is a link to my calendar.

Just pick a time and date that works for you and a zoom link will be sent automatically.

A Prayer for Peace by Rebbe Nachman of Breslav (1773-1810)

ויהיה כל אדם אוהב שלום ורודף שלום תמיד באמת ובלב שלם, ולא נחזיק במחלוקת כלל לעולם ואפילו נגד החולקים עלינו: ולא נבייש שום אדם בעולם מקטן ועד גדול ונזכה לקיים באמת מצוות “ואהבת לרעך כמוך“, בכל לב וגוף ונפש וממון:

“May it be that all people love peace and pursue peace, always in truth and with wholeheartedness, without holding on to any disputes ever again which would divide us against each other. Let us never shame any person on earth, great or small. May we truly fulfill the Commandment, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ (Leviticus 19:18) with all our hearts and souls and bodies and possessions.”

Rav Natani

About Us            Contact Us

2920 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22204