Clergy group hopes COVID anniversary service will provide healing

By Stephanie Goodling
HAKOL Editor

The Lehigh Valley Jewish Clergy Group is planning a healing service to mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This service will take place on Thursday, March 11, at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom, and is co-sponosored by the Jewish Federation. Clergy from various denominations are involved and the whole community is invited to participate.

Rabbi Moshe Re’em of Temple Beth El says that there are a lot of goals that the clergy group wants to accomplish through the evening.

“Marking a year since isolation and social distancing started I think is really important,” said Re’em. “In Genesis 2, we’re told it’s not good for a person to be alone, and for this past year many of us have been separated from loved ones and family. Many of us know people who are sick or have been sick or who have died. We’re social animals. As humans, we need to be in touch with each other. We need to shake hands, we need to give each other a hug, and we’ve been deprived of that through social distancing.”

Rabbi Melody Davis of Congregation Bnai Shalom said that “the main purpose of the service is to create a communal space where we can acknowledge the specter of COVID-19, the change it has inflicted upon us, and what we have to look forward to, a new beginning  and a new normal.”

Cantor Ellen Sussman of Temple Shirat Shalom added that, “First and foremost, the service is to remember those who have lost their lives to the pandemic and pray that we can learn from the experience.” 

Re’em emphasized the need for the service in light of not only the lives lost, but those impacted in a variety of ways. 

“There’s been a major increase in depression and family violence and suidice rates. People have lost jobs and are under economic stress and pressure. There really needs to be a space for those who are crying out, and for healing and for comfort. And I think that by organizing this service that we can accomplish that,” he said.

There’s no doubt that everyone has grief in one form or another to process after the last year, so all are welcomed to attend.

To register to attend the service, please click here or contact your local synagogue.