Jun 11, 2020
Announcing the publication of When We Turned Within: Reflections on COVID-19
Announcing the publication of
When We Turned Within: Reflections on COVID-19
Edited by Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Sarah Tuttle-Singer
Foreword: Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
Cover art: Rabbi Karen Byer Silberman
with Essays, Prayers, and Poems by 165 contributors from around the world
Kindle version here: amazon.com/dp/B089WGB8ZZ
For the full table of contents, click here: tinyurl.com/WhenWeTurnedWithinTOC
Special landing page designed by Reverend Ngozi T. Robinson: www.whenweturnedwithin.com
During the past months, our world has truly turned upside-down. We’ve lost so very much. What was casual just yesterday has become priceless today: smiles are covered beneath masks, generations divided by invisible boundaries, and physical togetherness deemed a danger.
And yet. Harmonies have been sung from balcony and bedrooms spanning the globe. Applause regularly erupts for cashiers and sanitation workers and nurses and those everyday heroes who keep the world balanced.
And yet. Synagogue buildings are empty and the comfort of a minyan has become digital. Funerals are hug-less, as are intergenerational family moments. And the number of souls we’ve buried… There simply aren’t words.
And yet. The skies are clearer and birdsong has returned. More people have convened for many a Zoom meal or online class than ever could have in person. We have come to know our neighbors just a bit more.
And yet. Amidst all this, protests erupted in reaction to the horrific killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, unarmed black people whose deaths have sparked an international response, shining light on the systemic racism and injustice that have cast a long, harsh shadow on the United States since its earliest days. The pandemic exacerbated already-present inequalities, and the murders in 2020 America of three human beings for the colors of their skin gave this injustice a face.
And yet. The responses to racism and isolation are growing in volume, and the voices of common citizens of all colors and orientations and faiths are calling out for justice, for an honest reckoning with the way things have been, for the end of all that keeps us apart, for a world in which no virus nor societal illness can deny a person their breath.
Friends, this book is much more than a record of loss. It is a collection of reflections, prayers, and poems of many, many individual souls who collectively tell the story of right now with depth and heart and startling brilliance. On these pages you will find honest testimony of a very difficult time on our planet.
It has been truly humbling work to assemble these voices and see patterns emerge, to feel the pain and longing and hope and faith and frustration and loneliness and transcendence of each contribution. I am more convinced than ever that all people share a common humanity, that our souls bind us together, that a better day is possible.
The arc of history will only bend toward justice under enough pressure, and the glorious weight of us all will be enough.
A few acknowledgements:
To the 165 serious, reflective, luminous, and lyrical authors who shared their hearts on these pages, thank you. You represent a true diversity of voices from within the Jewish community, grounded in reality and intentionally vulnerable, and allowed us to include you here to amplify each other’s vision of good in the world. Thank you.
To my co-editor, Sarah, whose brilliant and intuitive writing style has made her a widely-read and accessible touchstone for our time, thank you for joining me in this project. Your careful eye and sensitive soul are the reason so many authors lent their words to this undertaking. Working with you has been nothing short of sacred sharing. Thank you.
To my colleagues and friends at UJA-Federation of New York, where I am privileged to serve as the Pearl and Ira Meyer Scholar in Residence, my deepest gratitude. For allocating more than $46 million to date to meet needs across the New York region and Israel for the most vulnerable people, for embodying the heart and soul of our community, thank you. Proceeds from the sale of this book will support UJA-Federation NY’s work to make this world a better, safer, more just place.
To my precious family, (especially you, Neshama,) for inspiring me to build this world from Love, for being my holiest, safest, funnest place in the universe, thank you.
And finally, to the Source of Life, for being the invisible string that connects us all, thank You.
May the days ahead be better – for all people – than those we’ve left behind.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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