If I ran the zoo


November 24, 2021

I finally had the courage to go to my synagogue in Bellingham last week and there were only nine of us actually there in person plus Rabbi Josh Samuels and Cantor Andrea Shupak. Others were attending via Zoom but it didn’t seem like a big turnout.

We know that COVID-19 will have a big place in our history books because it has affected people’s lives in so many ways, short and long term, from losing loved ones to starting to new careers.

I reached out to the contributors to the monthly Our Faith column, which I edit, and the results were not surprising. COVID-19 is a big challenge to people’s faith!

Rabbi Danny Levine of Temple De Hirsch in Seattle summed it up very well. “In general, trying to strike a balance within the community – and perhaps within all of us as individuals – between eagerness to attain some sense of personal connection and ongoing concern for health and wellbeing around others.”

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in the summer of 2020, Americans, more than people in other economically developed countries, say the outbreak has bolstered their religious faith and the faith of their compatriots.

Nearly three-in-ten Americans (28%) report stronger personal faith because of the pandemic, and the same amount think the religious faith of Americans overall has strengthened.

Pastor Terry Kyllo acknowledged the challenges we are facing as the issue of vaccination has divided our country, as threats to our public health and school board workers become very common.

Yet Terry says he is finding hope in how strong people are as individuals and as community members as they find common ground against a common enemy: COVID-19.

Father James Dalton added this: “I’d say COVID is bringing out the best and worst of people of faith. Most people of faith are listening to doctors and scientists and getting the booster. Some people of faith are buying into strange notions that the vaccine has developed using aborted fetal tissue and that the vaccine is the work of the devil. Even some Catholics are not following the Pope’s pleas to get vaccinated!”

For those of you who think we should be able to make our own decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, I have a simple analogy for you. Should we have speed limits? Should people be allowed to drive as fast as they want? Isn’t that what freedom is about?

No, because you are not only endangering yourself, but also the innocent people who just might end up dying in a collision. Okay, you’re willing to risk it, but they aren’t.

So if you refuse to wear a mask, stay home, don’t come in contact with other people, and I will pray for you.


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