As the weeks go on, I’m hearing from more and more of you who are ill yourselves, worrying about friends or family who are ill, or mourning deaths. I’m sending much love and prayers for healing your way.

This week has been dominated by conversations about how many deaths would be acceptable in order to save the economy. We’ve seen elected officials — and even some who claim to speak in a religious voice — justifying condemning older people, and those with pre-existing conditions to death, as sacrifices to the god of the economy.

But the only religious answer to how many deaths are acceptable is zero. We know that we cannot achieve zero, but we must never stop mourning every single death as a tragedy.

Our tradition teaches that every single human being is a unique and infinitely valuable creation in the divine image. Indeed, the loss of a human being constitutes a diminishment of God Godself! As one midrash puts it, “If one sheds blood, it is accounted as though that person has diminished the divine image. For it is said: Whoever sheds human blood… For in the Image of God God made humanity (Gen. 9:6).” (Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishma’el, Tractate Bahodesh)

As a human rights organization, T’ruah will never abandon our responsibility to protect every single creation in the divine image.

This week, so many of you joined our virtual action to demand that immigrants detained by ICE be released before COVID-19 overruns detention centers. We learned together, we got updated on the crisis, and then we muted and called our governors. In the coming weeks, we will offer more opportunities to connect and take virtual action as a community.

If you missed the action, you can still call your governor.

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Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, and a refuah shleimah (complete recovery) for those in our communities and families who are suffering.

Thank you as always for your partnership,


Rabbi Jill Jacobs
Executive Director

[March 27, 2020]