A Critical Decision This Purim In the Face of the Coronavirus Threat

 

 












By Rabbi Glenn Black

With the fear of the coronvirus outbreak gaining steam across the GTA, we are still several days behind the outbreak’s reach in New York City, where several schools, yeshivot, and public gatherings of Jews have been closed down. 

this purim, the lesson of history shows us that it’s a time to act with guts and fearlessness in our decision making.

With the fear of the coronvirus outbreak gaining steam across the GTA, we are still several days behind the outbreak’s reach in New York City, where several schools, yeshivot, and public gatherings of Jews have been closed down. At NCSY Canada, we are in the midst of fielding calls from worried parents as we undertake the massive planning that goes into our annual March Break Trip to New York City. At the 11th hour, as our bookings at hotels and restaurants in New York are threatened with closure, NCSY is left with a critical choice. The “normal” response would be to shut down the trip altogether. No one… and I mean NO ONE would ever fault NCSY for that decision. But NCSY has decided to take a different course. Like Esther the queen in the Purim story, who was faced with a critical decision that showed her mettle and her true spirit in her brave decision to enter the King’s palace uninvited, NCSY, at this uncertain time, is faced with a monumental decision- one that will demonstrate the organization’s true essence and character.

The coronivus may stop luxury cruises and air travel, schools, and gatherings. It may negatively impact the stock market, gas, and housing prices, but the mission of NCSY must remain a constant. What we do at NCSY is simply too important to the lives of our teens, to their Jewish souls to back down now. And so, with the pressure to cancel the trip to New York mounting and, after weeks of preparations, deposits, and bookings having been made, I have made the decision to find another way, to reinvent the Shabbaton and relocate it to Montreal.

The exercise and journey is as important as the destination. If we can pull off a trip in just three days of preparation for 25 teens, then it’s worth it. The struggle is secondary. The outcome for our teens is that important that it needs to become the paramount consideration at play. NCSY is in the business of providing high quality Jewish experiences. That’s what we do and that is what we will continue to do. The exercise of salvaging the shabbaton is the most important thing that can do as an organization. If it comes to doing programs from our homes or virtually, then that’s what we’ll do. We will not stop what we are doing.

In history, we’ve learned the lesson only too well. There is no Haman who is going to take down a Mordechai, and there’s no Amalek who is going to take down the Jewish people. The thinking that it’s time to cancel a shabbaton or shut down a program or class is the Haman influence at play. And it’s not going to happen. We have to recognize that, as an organization, we were founded for moments such as these—to launch programs that are meaningful and significant, even in times of crisis. And we will remain tireless to make sure that they continue to go forward.

Wishing all our NCSY and Torah High families a Chag Purim V’sameach. May we continue to show passion and fearlessness in overcoming adversity this Purim and remaining strong as the proud Jewish people that we are.  

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