One Year of COVID-19 by Rav Natan


To you, GOD, I call;
And to you, God, I supplicate.
Hear, Adonai, and be merciful to me;
God, be my help.

Dear Congregation Etz Hayim,

As we reach a full year since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to bring a reflection about this time we are all going through.

The words I just shared are from Psalm 30 and we read them every morning in the beginning of our services. Many times, we just rush through them. Today I wanted to use them as a framework to express our feelings and emotions.

Whenever we feel unstable, when we need to grieve, we turn to God.
Praying can help us evaluate our own behavior, express gratitude, praise and reinforce the divine values we hold dear, AND help us find comfort, and expressing our deeper sorrows and fears.

Looking at our tradition, we learn that we are all created in God’s image.
This idea invites us to reflect on our own potential and responsibility, as human beings.

We can offer comfort and help each other grieve. We can hold each other’s hands and cry together.

When we pray to God to be with us, to be merciful, to help, we remind ourselves of our partnership and our shared responsibility with each other.

Last Shabbat, we finished reading the book of Shemot. A very unique ritual happens when we finish reading a book of the Torah. After the last reading is done, we all say together: “Chazak chazak venitchazek” – Be strong, be strong, and we will be encouraged, strengthen by each other.

I find this line to be very meaningful and helpful right now.

As we are all created in God’s image, we also have the potential to encourage, support, and uplift each other.

When we turn to God, we also turn to one another. And when we turn to one another, we are also turning to God.

May we all find meaning, comfort, and support with God and with each other as we are carrying all the pain and loss from this past year while renewing our lives through time and time again.

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