I don’t know about you, but for the first time in a very arduous year, things are starting to feel promising and new again. With the reopening of some schools and restaurants and the increase in vaccine availability across the country, I can feel the fog of Zoom and quarantine beginning to lift. Just like our ancestors in the Passover story, I see the outlines of the promised land across the horizon -- a world that someday will be Covid-free.
Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, I enjoyed a seder with my immediate family of 6 this year. We sat outside and recalled not only the journey of our biblical ancestors but also the taxing experience that each one of us faced during the many ups and downs of this pandemic. Thanks to Rabbi Nanus’ prompts from her Shabbat message last week, we used the seder as a moment to reflect on what we have learned, what we have lost, and what we hope to gain in the coming year. Though I know the trajectory of our Covid ordeal is far from over, looking around the table at my family, and my now one-year-old son experiencing his first family Passover (not on Zoom), I couldn’t help but feel the need to celebrate.
During Passover services this weekend, we chant Shirat Hayam, the triumphant Song of the Sea that the Israelites spontaneously sang after crossing the parted waters. We read in the Torah that Miriam, Moses's sister, took out her timbrel and led all of the women in ecstatic dancing and celebration. While Miriam and the women must have known their journey to freedom was only just beginning, they took a moment to celebrate that win, despite the many unknown challenges that laid ahead.
Just like the Israelites, there is a lot of uncertainty about our own future. While some have been vaccinated, many others still wait their turn, and some may never be vaccinated due to health issues and age. Our son, Joey is an infant and not eligible for the vaccine. This means that for the foreseeable future, we will have to weigh the risks of his being infected against the benefits of exposing him to the normal world. Our own journey as a family is far from over.
Despite all of the uncertainty swirling around our heads, we should try to take a lesson from Miriam and her women, and take that well-deserved moment to celebrate our wins: Covid hospitalizations are down, children around the country are returning to in-person education, grandparents can hug their children and grandchildren without fear, and laughter can be heard at outdoor gatherings around the city. We still have a long and unpredictable trek ahead, but this Shabbat I hope you take a moment to relish the "wins" of your own journey this year, and if you would like to share, I would love to hear from you.
Sing unto God a new song... All of the earth.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
Cantor Lisa Peicott