Progressively Speaking: We are ready to build a new post-pandemic world

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Progressively Speaking: We are ready to build a new post-pandemic world

Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel takes a topical issue and looks into Jewish texts for a Liberal response

There is something utterly comforting in the endless cycle of Shabbats and festivals of our Jewish calendar.

There is not much certainty in our lives right now – so the succession of days and nights, weeks and months, Shabbats and festivals, anchors us in life and time. We change, but their fundamental meaning doesn’t. T

hat is beautifully captured by the She’echeyanu: “Blessed are You, Eternal our God. You have granted us life, sustained us, and empowered us to reach this moment.”

Our community life under Covid has been disrupted to a point that very few have known since the end of the last war. And yet, our communities have shown strength and resilience.

Much has been written already about the effects of Covid on our society and our world. But it has also taught us some invaluable lessons.

We cannot continue with the previous way of life, pursuing wealth at all cost with no consideration for the environment and the well-being of our fellow humans.

We have rediscovered the power of togetherness and community, the interconnectedness of all parts of our society, and professions that were taken for granted – carers, bin collectors, delivery people, supermarket workers – have proven to be essential for the upkeep of our collective life.

We have now covered a full yearly cycle of Jewish festivals. We have experienced them with many external limitations, but their deeper meaning became more accessible than ever.

As we come to the end of the cycle, however, we are somehow despondent. We’ve had enough of these limitations. Many people have died and we have suffered many losses. Our patience has been tested. Our resilience has proved to be stronger than we thought.

We know there is light at the end of the tunnel, but nobody dares forecast when this plight will be over.

We have celebrated the last day of Pesach, which commemorates the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, the ultimate step of Redemption, when our ancestors put their feet on the other side and began the process of becoming a great nation.

It feels like we, too, have now crossed the sea and are ready to build the new post-Covid world. We have moved far away from last year and are ready to begin our new journey.

Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel is co-chair of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors

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