No Choice

While Standing (Six Feet Apart) On One Foot
April 14, 2020

I am at the point in this pandemic that I need a haircut. SaraAnn wants to experiment dyeing my hair. I don’t think I will go that route. Stella is adamantly against it. I lost that vote, for sure. But the truth is that my hair is getting really, really long and, even before this pandemicly inspired lockdown, I needed a haircut.

Talk about a first world problem.

Yes, even in the midst of this pandemic, I am privileged. That is when I step back from myself and mutter something about ‘getting a grip.’

In our country, there are so many people, millions in fact, who worry a lot more than just about how they are going to get their haircut! There are issues of rent, mortgage, food insecurity, no savings and the future is a black hole. Too many see their situation as bleak, at best and hopeless, at worst. Needing a haircut is simply not that important. And so, in solidarity with every person who is suffering in so many ways, I will not cut this mop on top of my head. But what else can I do?

The stimulus checks that we are getting is a good way to relieve the suffering of others. Stella and I agreed that we will donate to the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Asbury Park. We both feel that this is a simple and effective way to meet the needs of those who are suffering. It may not change the world but it will provide meals for those who have nothing else.

How can we look at the images coming out of Texas of thousands of cars lining up for food from the San Antonio food bank and not be moved? Whatever these people’s political bent are, they need to eat. There are those who say that whatever misfortune they are feeling, they somehow deserve it. Nonsense. And the same thing – the same hunger – is happening a scant few miles away from where we all live.

An anonymous congregant was so moved by the suffering that they sent a large check to the Rabbis Fund to provide for any congregant who needs food. I was deeply moved. And I was more moved when they said, ‘Cy, whatever other funds you need, come to us first.’ This is tzedakah, plain and simple, and the goodness that is in the hearts of so many can be seen throughout our nation.

This pandemic is bringing out the very best and very worst of people. Crises always do. It is human nature. What side will we station ourselves on? This is not about Jewish guilt. It is about Jewish responsibility and caring for one another should we have the resources to do so. At this difficult time, there is simply no other choice.