March 13, 2020
Adar 17, 5780
By now I trust you've read my email about Tzedek Chicago's new social distancing policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to do so - you can access the letter here.
Like many of you, I imagine. I'd never heard of the term "social distancing" before now. I will confess, the first time I heard it, it distinctly rubbed me the wrong way. I imagine that anyone who cherishes community would most likely recoil from a directive for individuals to literally increase the distance between one another. Of course, I do understand the critical community health connotations of this term, particularly during a pandemic involving a new and highly contagious virus.
At the same time, I've also come to realize, as I wrote to you yesterday, that social distancing does not and must not mean social isolation. It's an interestingly counterintuitive idea: namely, that there are times when individuals must mindfully create distance between each other for the sake of community - that is to say, for the greater good.
This will be our sacred challenge in the days and months to come: how will we find means of spiritual, emotional and intellectual connection in a time that requires increasing physical separation from one another?
I do believe we are up to the task. It is my fervent hope that Tzedek Chicago, in its small way, might be a microcosm of the world we want to create: a community that models how to create connection and care, even as present circumstances require us to remain physically apart.
Again, please be in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to serve on our Hesed ("Community Care") Committee. In the meantime, we will be in touch soon with more news on how you can connect with our Tzedek community via live stream and webinar.
Rabbi Brant Rosen