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Times of Tragedy Bring out  our Very Best or Very Worst 

04/14/2020 10:29:17 AM


Steven Fine

As with so many national and international tragedies we have faced in recent years, there is one constant. Tragedies either bring out the very best in people, or the very worst.

Rick Wiles, a Florida pastor, said on March 26 that God is giving the Jews the coronavirus as a divine punishment. “That is why you have a plague in your synagogues, he said.

We have seen shoppers hoarding groceries and personal items to the extent that others don’t have any. Is it necessary to have 144 rolls of toilet paper while your neighbor has none? We find anti-Jew hatemongers zoom-bombing video prayer services to spew their vitriolic epithets. And, we see people using this current tragedy to prey on the most vulnerable to try and cheat them out of money and their economic stimulus checks.

Sometimes it is difficult to look past this abhorrent behavior and see the wonderful things that people do in the face of tragedy and how much good there is in the world. However it is right here in front of our eyes.

We’ve seen people (our own Rabbi Kantor and family for one) driving by a friend or family member’s house to wish them a happy birthday. We’ve seen athletes, celebrities, and non-celebrities alike donate tens of millions of dollars to the effort. Quarantined people in Italy, Spain, France, and Israel coordinated times to applaud healthcare workers from their homes. The sounds of clapping, cheering, and whistling filled the air in expressions of gratitude for doctors, nurses, and others who are tirelessly treating the sick.

Fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in Columbus, Nebraska, made get well cards for people affected by the coronavirus. Their teacher then mailed the cards to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to be distributed to those in quarantine. Food trucks and restaurants are delivering free food to kids locked out of school lunch programs. There are so many similar stories.

Members of B’nai Moshe have stepped up, as we always do. We have collected over $1,500 in donations to provide food for medical heroes working tirelessly at Henry Ford Hospital WB. Michelle Seid and Jacqueline Goldstein have championed an effort wherein they have been providing food to many units at many hospitals with food from local restaurants, thus helping both the medical heroes and local food establishments.

People say that they can’t wait to get back to normal. I hope not. In “normal” times we don’t see nearly the generosity we see now. Let’s make these actions our ”new normal” when we don’t need a tragedy to fulfill our obligation of repairing the world. Remember, we’re not stuck at home. We’re safe at home. One word can make all the difference.

Thu, July 25 2024 19 Tammuz 5784