Rabbi's Message - February 4, 2022
In our weekly Torah reading last week and this week, we are reminded of the 10 plagues in Egypt; though it hardly feels like we need such a reminder. Over the past week I have seen the news reports of 1,600 acres of land being consumed by a wildfire in Boulder County, Colorado. The pictures are heart breaking.
For me, sitting here, at a safe distance, it is a reminder. NBC News quoted Colorado’s governor saying, “It’s like the neighborhood you live in. It’s like the neighborhood that any of us live in. 1,600 acres near a population center can be – and is, in this case – absolutely devastating.” It’s a reality we know – the Memorial Day tornadoes of 2019 tore homes and lives apart and wrecked devastation on our own community.
What stands out about these wildfires is the rapidity with which they spread. Climate scientists believe this is due to the severe droughts that the West coast areas have experienced due to climate change (global warming).
We are commanded in the Bible to have empathy and compassion on the most vulnerable because we were once slaves in Egypt. The implication being that we know what it feels like to be oppressed, to be more vulnerable to devastation from natural events. We carry that legacy as Jews and as a community that experienced a similar event.
And for many of us, it hits even closer to home. Alan Halpern, our former executive director, who now lives and works in Boulder, lost his home to the fires. He and his family escaped unharmed, but will be rebuilding in the weeks and months ahead, along with so many others.
The plagues of Egypt are not just fantastical stories of the past. And as much as I may have joked over the past two years about swarms of locusts, killer bees, and COVID being a new set of plagues, there are very real, very devastating events. It is not up to us to complete the work of rebuilding and supporting the victims, but we cannot stand idly by.
We have been in contact with Alan, and he has told us the best way to help right now is to donate to The Community Foundation of Boulder County or to the relief fund established by Jewish Colorado. These organizations are assessing the needs of those affected and working quickly to help. We are grateful that Alan and his family are safe and healthy, and we pray that he and all those affected find the support of community and feel at home while rebuilding physical homes.