Shabbat Shalom from the J
It is difficult to describe to those outside of Houston what life is like here right now. Families displaced from their homes, the contents of a life piled up on countless front lawns, each day hazily blending into the next. These past two weeks have proven themselves beyond our wildest imagining, and we are utterly exhausted. Exhausted from tearing apart houses, from conversations with FEMA, from shuttling kids to temporary childcare, from the physical and emotional toll this experience continues to collect from us. And yet, through it all, the sense of community among our J family is perhaps the one thing that has not yet become exhausted. In fact, quite the opposite.
The haftarah text for Shabbat tomorrow morning echoes this sentiment, as the prophet Isaiah describes his vision of the redemption of Israel, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of God has shined upon you... Lift up your eyes all around and see, they all have gathered, they have come to you, your sons shall come from afar and your daughters will be raised on their side. Then you shall see and be radiant, and your heart shall be startled and become enlarged, for the abundance of the west shall be turned over to you, the wealth of the nations that will come to you.”
Thousands passed through the Tennis Center at the J this past week. Hundreds more participated in Hurricane Harvey Houston Day Camp. Countless others delivered Meals on Wheels to our most vulnerable populations. Whether we came to unload a truck of supplies for our neighbors or to get mops and bleach for ourselves, whether we volunteered at or sent our children to camp, whether we got in our car and brought meals to home-bound seniors or we opened our doors to accept those meals, we greeted each other with warmth and a tacit understanding. We held each other as we cried and we showed up to do what we knew had to be done. Our hearts truly were “startled” and “enlarged,” and we saw that our community’s reach goes well beyond the boundaries of four walls.
Although there is still much work to be done, as sunset draws near let us pause if we are able and reflect on the “abundance of the west” that has been turned over to us--an abundance of kindness, generosity, and love that continues to lob back and forth as we both give and receive what we need from each other during this trying time. May Isaiah’s words inspire us to persevere, and may we allow God’s light to shine upon us as we remember that we are all in this together.