For 2 years, the COVID-19 pandemic redefined life itself in every corner of the world. No one could have imagined the immensity of our losses, nor could anyone have foreseen the new possibilities that have emerged as a result of communal and individual relocation. Rabbis have joined the armies of angels responding to all of this, channeling the best of Jewish tradition to support their communities and make meaning of the world we share. New technologies have extended the reach of religious leaders far beyond the physical boundaries of community that once felt more defined, and their soulful offerings have helped countless others feel less alone. Honey from the Rock is an anthology of reflective writings from within the rabbinic community, representing a true diversity of voices, grounded and vulnerable, inspiring and honest, published in order to amplify the meaning and comfort rabbis have offered during a very difficult time in human history.
to view the Table of Contents, click here.
from the FOREWORD by BETSY STONE, Ph.D
One of the many roles of clergy is to “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In our two years plus of COVID, we are all afflicted. Afflicted by the pain of loss, by the disruption of loneliness, by the challenge of ongoing adaptation and disorientation. And yet many are also comfortable. We have homes, reliable food sources, medical care. We have technology that allows us to connect, albeit differently. The heat works. We learn new skills, whether baking sourdough or a musical instrument. We connect more deeply with family and with ourselves. During the darkness and light of COVID-19, our clergy leaders have challenged us to grow. These sermons, delivered during the past two years, remind us that we are part of both a historical lineage and of a specific time. We are Jews in time and Jews in THIS time. Both create obligation. How are we obligated in response to the murder of George Floyd? Must we care for the stranger? How do we reconnect with ourselves and with each other? How can we react to political turmoil and to personal pain? These sermons are written to challenge and push us, to force us to confront ourselves. And they are written to comfort us, to bring a sense of shleimut, wholeness, to a people that is isolated and desperate. What are the challenges of COVID times? Our Rabbis remind us to remain human and connected, to lock eyes with another. They push us beyond the boundaries of seeing others as disease vectors, to see each other’s pains and joys. They demand that we accept that we are all flawed, with empathy and kindness. They tell us to look inward and outward, to offer the same care to others as to ourselves, to manage ourselves, to control our anger. To lead at a time like this demands huge personal cost. Clergy has adapted, pivoted. They work harder than ever before. They listen and comfort. They have become epidemiologists and security experts. They work long hours and worry about us more. And we need more from them. More teaching, more comfort, more funerals, more flexibility. COVID has brought out the best of us and the worst of us. These sermons demonstrate how profoundly our clergy have risen to the challenge of comforting our afflictions and afflicting us when we are too comfortable. Kol HaKavod.
from the AFTERWORD by Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz
The two years behind us have been like nothing we’ve ever experienced and the days in front of us still feel uncertain. So, how do we find our footing in this mess? What can we look towards as we begin again? We are like butterflies. The butterfly doesn’t create chaos. It withstands chaos. It navigates chaos and it does so by focusing on its intergenerational mission and its home. May we do our part to fulfill our destinies as butterflies among people. May we find our way in the tempest, spreading life and hope in its chaotic winds, may we do our part to ensure that we, and our children and our children’s children always know our way home. And let us say, Amen.