My eyes pine away from affliction; I call to You, O LORD, each day; I stretch out my hands to You” (Psalm 88:10)
The Minnesota Rabbinical Association calls on our governor, lieutenant governor, and elected leaders to put in place all reasonable measures that will help our community reduce the spread of COVID-19, particularly by mandating the wearing of face coverings in public.
Our world is experiencing the most widely felt international plague in a century. Many states in our country are witnessing record new cases daily. We are losing loved ones to COVID-19, many more are experiencing debilitating illness, our livelihoods are under threat, and our children’s education and well-being are at stake.
Communal challenges require communal responses. We must take responsibility not only for ourselves, but for one another.
The core of Jewish tradition centers on the value of life (Deuteronomy 30:19). The saving of life supersedes all other religious duties (Mishneh Torah, Shabbat 2:1). Moreover, Jewish tradition teaches that “a person should never remain in a state of danger and say, ‘a miracle will be performed on my behalf ’” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 32a).
We look to our sacred Scriptures for guidance. Face coverings fulfill the mandate set out in the book of Deuteronomy 22:8, which commands home builders to erect parapets around a roof to prevent anyone from falling from it. Jewish tradition understands this verse to be broadly applicable to any reasonable measure that will protect public safety.
We have learned that those infected with COVID-19 can spread the disease before they are symptomatic, which makes wearing a face covering in public all the more crucial. We find support for this practice in the words of Leviticus 19:14, “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” If we work together, we can change the dangerous trajectory we are on. Let us be strong, and let us strengthen one another.
Rabbi Kassel Abelson, Rabbi Esther Adler, Rabbi Morris Allen, Rabbi Shalom Resnick Bell, Rabbi Norman Cohen, Rabbi Jill Crimmings, Rabbi Barry Cytron, Rabbi Alexander Davis, Rabbi Max Davis, Rabbi Ryan Dulkin, Rabbi Shosh Dworsky, Rabbi Joseph Edelheit, Rabbi Avraham Ettedgui, Rabbi Jeremy Fine, Rabbi Jennifer Hartman, Rabbi Sim Glaser, Rabbi Yosi Gordon, Rabbi Tamar Grimm, Rabbi Hayim Herring, Rabbi Harold Kravitz, Rabbi Jason Klein, Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, Rabbi Arielle Lekach-Rosenberg, Rabbi Lynn Liberman, Rabbi David Locketz, Rabbi Alan Shavit-Lonstein, Rabbi Micah Miller, Rabbi Tobias Divack Moss, Rabbi Cathy Nemiroff, Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman, Rabbi Avi Olitzky, Rabbi Debra Rappaport, Rabbi Adam Rubin, Rabbi Jeffrey Schein, Rabbi Adam Spilker, Rabbi David Steinberg, Rabbi Sharon Stiefel, Rabbi David Thomas, Rabbi Heidi Waldmann, Rabbi Aaron Weininger, Rabbi Michelle Werner, and Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman
[July 14, 2020]