Progressively Speaking: Why 2021 should be the year of unmuting
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Progressively Speaking: Why 2021 should be the year of unmuting

Rabbi Miriam Berger takes a topical issue and delves into Jewish texts for a Reform response

Covid-19 vaccine administered through an injection
Covid-19 vaccine administered through an injection

The Torah teaches us from its opening chapter that God speaks things into existence. ‘“Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

We too can speak things into existence. The announcement of the Covid vaccine rollout created an immediate feeling of hope. The Oxford vaccine without the same storage and transport challenges of Pfizer/BioNTech’s offers even more of the joy of “and they approved the vaccine and it was”. 

Hope and joy comes before concern of the scale of logistics and administration getting in the way. We can start our new year with
a vision of how much better this one has the potential to be. 

These words create positivity; however, at the same time, our silence or ignorance around the rising number of Covid cases means we ignore and leave muted our struggling doctors and nurses.

Words enable us to be powerful creators of a vision, of hope, whereas not talking about a situation can only hide it and only temporarily. 

A lack of words may silence, but it doesn’t annihilate. Lack of words may relegate people to the shadows, but it only mutes them – it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. 

This year muted many. Not because of their inability to navigate Zoom, but when people are forced to isolate at home, the virus may be controlled, but depression, anxiety and loneliness are all potentially exacerbated. 

18 January is known as Blue Monday, said to be the most depressing day of the year – perhaps quite a claim after the 2020 we had. 

We could accept it as a day when people will try to find coping mechanisms, although naturally we tend not to opt for those that are good for us. 

We may stay in bed, overeat or try to numb the feelings with alcohol. Or we could, instead, unmute and talk. 

As we begin this secular new year, we want to commit ourselves to being part of creating a world by the words we speak, to work towards unmuting the voices of those who feel silenced and by talking about the things that are often unspoken. 

  •  Rabbi Miriam Berger serves Finchley Reform Synagogue

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