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Weekly Message 05.08.2020 Parashat Emor (Speak) Leviticus 21:1-24:23

Dear friends,

I hope that you are staying healthy and safe as the pandemic keeps us at home and communicating by computer, phone, and other 21st century technological marvels!

Chris and I continue to oversee our two younger grandson's education and try to make each day special for them as they remain isolated from their school and their friends and the rest of the family. As we practice social distancing and are somewhat encouraged by the news on the medical front, we still have lots going on and I encourage you to reach out and participate in as much as you can under the circumstances. I hope you enjoyed the celebration of Israel's 72nd birthday (Yom Ha'atzmaut) on Wednesday with millions of others throughout the world sponsored by all of the Jewish Federations. If you missed it, you can still catch it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrNU5GhJkFY at any time! The week ahead includes the celebration of Lag B'Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer (May 11/12) between Passover and Shavuot and a very welcome break from the restrictions placed upon those who observe them during this season. The holiday celebrates a break in a plague that is said to have occurred during the days of Rabbi Akiva. In modern times the holiday has come to symbolize the resilience of the Jewish spirit. How relevant that this should occur as we struggle through one of the most difficult periods of our lifetimes! Of course, with social distancing in place, our celebration will be somewhat muted. Also, please mark your calendars for the evening of Thursday, May 21st at 7 pm when we have once again been invited by my New Jersey synagogue to celebrate our newest holiday, Yom Yerushalayim (the reunification of Jerusalem after the 7-day war in 1967) with a special "Zoomed" program. Details on logging on to follow next week. Our Torah portion this week is Parashat Emor from the book of Leviticus. The responsibilities of the priests (Kohanym) are outlined and the calendar's pilgrimage festivals and other seasonal observances are presented, the next one being the holiday of Shavuot which we will celebrate May 28-30. Details on how we at the JCC will present remotely are forthcoming as well. Often connected to the reading of Emor is a story adapted from the Talmud about a man who self-isolates and then emerges with a different perspective on the world, so relevant to the situation in which we are living today. As we are now isolated at home in much the same way, we can take advantage of this "alone time" to determine how we will be stronger and lead better lives as a result of our recent experiences. So please continue to tune in to our Shabbat services every Friday evening at 7:30 pm at https://www.jccwestpasco.com/ and then clicking on the "f" (for facebook) at the bottom of the screen or go directly to https://www.facebook.com/jccwestpasco/ We thank all who have already contributed to our JCC of West Pasco's emergency fund that will enable us to pay our utility and building upkeep bills as detailed in our president's letter in the May issue of the Schrier. As our normal source of income (bingo) is in hiatus during this period of the pandemic, is no longer available, we are counting on the generosity of our congregants to the best of your ability. Donation checks can be mailed directly to the synagogue at 9841 Scenic Dr, Port Richey, FL 34668. As I indicated in last week's message, we are now facing possibly the biggest health and well-being crises of our lives and must react positively and generously to ease the hunger, pain, and suffering of others. I continue to urge you to be in constant touch with friends, relatives, and fellow congregants and offer whatever assistance you can to those who are isolated and cannot do everything for themselves. Sometimes a simple phone call goes a very long way. In addition it is critical to fulfill of commandment of "feeding the hungry". If anything, the situation is more dire this week than last week. 65,000 people in Pasco County alone live below the poverty line and during this Covid-19 virus period, many are without food and some without shelter. It is imperative that we donate whatever we can to help alleviate this suffering. I can personally recommend appropriate charities, but of course there are many other religious and secular organizations dedicated to alleviating hunger and suffering, so please be generous if you can to whichever charity you choose. In addition to the Three other organizations outlined below, I can also recommend The Volunteer Way which provides food and other assistance to more than 23,000 families each month in Pasco, Hernando and the surrounding counties. Importantly, their administrative overhead is a minuscule less than 1% meaning that over 99% of your contributions will go directly to assisting those who need it. They encourage volunteers and donations which can be made payable to them at The Volunteer Way 8061 Congress Street Port Richey, FL 34688 Donations can also be made by phone at 727-815-0433 or at their website http://thevolunteerway.org/ Metropolitan Ministries of Pasco County which maintains a food pantry that is open daily and serves our local community with many lifesaving meals. They also encourage volunteers and donations can be made payable to them by mail at Metropolitan Ministries 3214 US-19 Holiday, FL 34691 Donations can also be made by phone at 727-937-3268 or at their website https://www.metromin.org/what-we-do/pasco/ Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger whose COVID-19 Response Fund supports critical efforts to ensure that everyone has immediate access to the food they need, with dignity – without exposing themselves to further danger or putting their dietary or nutritional needs to the side. Donations can be made at their website https://mazon.org/ or by phone at 1-800-813-0557 or by mail at Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger PO Box 96119 Washington, DC 20090 Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services maintains a food pantry and stays in touch with vulnerable individuals and families who are facing severe isolation issues during this critical period. Donations can be made at their website at https://gulfcoastjewishfamilyandcommunityservices.org/donate-to-gcjfcs/ or by phone at 727-479-1800 or by mail to Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services 14041 Icot Blvd. Clearwater Fl 33760 Together, we will overcome this terrible episode in our history, but as we all know, we as a people have overcome much worse. Hopefully, this episode will not last much longer and that we will come out of it with a better understanding and compassion for the world. "See" you tonight at 7:30 pm Ron Becker,

Spiritual Leader

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