A recent article in The Forward shared excerpts from some of the 100 letters religious scholars have written to President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and members of Congress to be distributed during the first 100 days of the new administration. The project “American Values, Religious Voices: 100 Days, 100 Letters” was first executed in 2017 by Rabbi Andrea Weiss, provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The aim is to encourage unity during difficult times and to ask our leaders to uphold our nation’s highest principles.
One scholar, Professor Ryan Bonfiglio of Emory University, advises, “Do not yearn with misdirected nostalgia for a time when things were perceived to be better. Rather, nourish the sort of hope and compassion that can guide us in our present pain.” So many are in pain right now after a devastating year in isolation that will have long-lasting effects on our psyche and economy. The United States has reached the grim milestone of 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19. That is half a million families who are grieving for their loved ones who were alive last year at this time. The only way our nation will get through all the pain and devastation is to go through it. True compassion means you feel and acknowledge the pain of another and want to alleviate the suffering. We need our leaders to heed Bonfiglio’s call to act with genuine compassion and guide us through this dark chapter in our history.
In our own community, Rose Shea, director of JFS, has worked tirelessly over the last year to ensure community members are connected with the resources they need to get through these difficult times. In addition, JFS has given out thousands of dollars in support over the last year and will continue to do so. Thank you to Rose and all our community members who have contributed financially to JFS. You have demonstrated true compassion and given help to our neighbors in need.
I want to wish everyone in the Binghamton Jewish community a chag Pesach sameach. As we remember the pain and dark times of our ancestors, let us not forget the compassion God has for us and the compassion we must show one another.