I want to talk about community for a little bit and what it means to love our neighbor.
It means providing food and shelter to those without. It means holding space and compassion for everyone, regardless of circumstance. It often means wading in the discomfort of life, the messiness of existence, and saying, “I’m here with you.” What it doesn’t often mean is staying by yourself.
In times of trial, what do we turn to but community for solace, comfort, and companionship. But right now, on the precipice of spreading illness, loving your neighbor means staying at least six feet away from them. It means not going out to events, it means canceling group gatherings. It means, especially if you’re sick, staying nestled in your home. But as we continue this isolation and social distancing, we need to be incredibly intentional about creative community-building. The Washington Post and Vox (I’m sure along with many others) offer excellent articles examining what it means to make community, and what duty of care we have to our fellow humans, in this new space that has sprung up so quickly.
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky suggested on the Facebook page of his Los Angeles congregation, B’nai David-Judea, “The very last thing we need right now is a mindset of mutual distancing. We actually need to be thinking in the exact opposite way. Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another must become a thought as to how we might help that other, should the need arise.”
He concluded by saying: “Let’s stay safe. And let’s draw one another closer in a way that we’ve never done before.”