Congregational and Institutional Responses

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  • Y'hi Ratzon -- Safe Together Apart

    I am Cantor at a Conservative synagogue (Jewish) in Columbus, Ohio. I wrote this song/prayer shortly after the arrival of what was first called Coronavirus, then Covid-19 -- before the word pandemic was being commonly used. The song/prayer had coalesced by March 20. It is based on a somewhat obscure passage in the weekday Torah service (the Torah is read every Monday and Thursday) -- a passage theoretically recited between raising the Torah and returning it to the Ark. The original prayer asks God (our Father) to protect us from desolation and pestilence. I broadened it -- both in Hebrew and in English -- to think of God as both Father and Mother -- and to ask for protection for all of us (not just "b'nei Yisrael" -- the children of Israel) -- brothers and sisters in this country and around the world -- and to keep us Safe Together Apart -- which is the unique challenge to us in these times. I typically do either the Hebrew or the English (generally not both) between various services -- or in the midst of some services -- probably about 5x per week. As we still follow our basic traditional rituals, it hasn't altered the prayers that we do. . . it just gets added here and there. And I share it with other cantors, other Jewish spiritual leaders, and leaders of other faiths, at all appropriate opportunities.
  • Minyan in Brooklyn, Photograph by Jacob Kornbluh

    Orthodox Jewish minyan, March 17, 2020