Of the many impacts of this terrible pandemic, perhaps one of the most unexpected is a renewed appreciation of all that we ordinarily take for granted.
For each of us, there are those things in our lives that we never thought much about before, but now recognize to be an integral part of who we are—to the point where we don’t quite feel whole without them.
The most difficult for me has been not being able to hug my parents and watch them bond with my children, especially at this special time of year. And that’s with the knowledge that our family is relatively safe. For those bearing the worst of this pandemic or who have loved ones fighting for their lives, physical separation from family has brought additional, unimaginable pain.
If ever there was a holiday that urges us to take nothing for granted, it’s Passover. To remember that we were once a nation of slaves is to remind ourselves that freedom—and life itself—is precarious, and therefore precious. To recall that we were liberated by the Almighty reminds us that even the darkest of adversity is finite, and though its end may be beyond our vision, it will indeed come.
As I reflect on our community’s incredible response to this crisis, I also have a renewed appreciation for the many institutions that are central to Jewish life in our city. Day schools and JCCs have rapidly transitioned to online programming. Synagogues and social service agencies are mobilizing to take care of the vulnerable. Here at UJA, we’ve launched a range of initiatives in response to the pandemic, from our emergency campaign to help at-risk community members, to UJA’s Passover resources, to this special message of solidarity from UJA’s ShinShinim, to name just a few.
While I’m encouraged that we’ve helped keep our community safe and connected during this pandemic, the real lesson of the past few weeks has been that our collective strength is not a matter of any one institution. Rather, it’s about the unity and dynamism of a multitude of organizations, each one of which holds an important piece of our collective response to the pandemic. Looking at that response through the lens of UJA’s 100+ partner organizations, it’s clear to me that we will recover from this crisis with strength and resilience.
Wishing you and your loved ones a healthy and meaningful Passover.
Chag Pesach Sameach,
President & CEO
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto