We are more than halfway through counting the omer — the period between Pesach and Shavuot. We have emerged from slavery and are well on our way to the liberation of standing at Sinai, affirming our status as a community with shared laws, values, and responsibilities for one another.

When we start counting the omer, we know how many days we will count, and when we will arrive at our destination. But perhaps this year, we can imagine the anxiety of the Israelites who left Mitzrayim, not knowing how long it would take them to reach Sinai, or how long it would take to reach the Promised Land. Today, we find ourselves in limbo, as a situation many of us anticipated would be temporary stretches out, and some — like the Israelites in the wilderness — begin to call for a return to the past, even if that would entail the deaths of far too many.

As Jews, we affirm our commitment to staying the path, even if it feels impossibly long. Lives are at stake, and the preservation of human life trumps virtually every other mitzvah.

T’ruah’s mission has never felt so vital, as our nation’s prisons continue to be hotbeds of disease, as the first person detained in ICE custody died of COVID-19 this week, and as our rabbis and cantors take on unprecedented leadership in guiding our community through grief, illness, and worry, while also speaking out boldly in defense of those our government has abandoned.

Here’s a bit of what’s happening at T’ruah this week:

  • We announced this week that T’ruah’s 18th anniversary (chai) gala will be taking place virtually on June 1. While we are sad not to be able to come together in person, we are excited about the chance to welcome members of the T’ruah community members from across the country to celebrate Rabbi Aaron Brusso, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Moses Silverman, and Randi Weingarten. You can learn more about the event and the honorees and register here.
  • You may already have joined one of our weekly virtual actions. This week, we called our senators and representatives to ask for mandatory protections from COVID-19 for workers in meatpacking plants, transportation jobs, warehouses, and more. Send your reps an email asking them to support these protections, and mark your calendar for this coming week’s action, Tuesday 5/12 at 2:30 pm ET.
  • If you missed our provocative conversation with Jay Stanley of the ACLU and Sharon Abraham-Weiss of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, about how to balance civil rights and public health, you can watch it here. We learned about whether tracking apps work, what concerns we might have about the collection of information, and the questions that “immunity passports” raise. 

Around us is desert, isolation and uncertainty. Ahead of us lies the unknown. But if we take care of one another, we can reach the promise of a better world. Let’s walk forward together. 

Wishing you a restful and healthy Shabbat,

Rabbi Jill Jacobs
Executive Director