From the Cantor, Murray Simon
Shavuot – the Festival of Weeks
“The Time of the Giving of the Torah”
The Festival of Shavuot is the festival holiday occurring 50 days after Passover begins (Pentacost), on which we traditionally celebrate the giving of the Torah to the Jewish People standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
It is unlike other Jewish holidays in that it has no prescribed mitzvoth (Torah commandments) other than traditional festival observances of meals (especially dairy foods) and merriment and the traditional holiday observances of special prayer services and the required abstention from work.
However, it is also characterized by many minhagim (customs). One of these customs is the recitation of Yizkor (Prayers of Remembrance) – which is recited only four times a year.
My dear friend and colleague, Rabbi/Cantor Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life synagogue of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (yes, that Tree of Life congregation) wrote this beautiful and timely Prayer for Yizkor that I would like to share with you.
Avinu Shebashamayim, Our God in Heaven, COVID-19 reminds us that we are all created equally in Your image.
You implanted in each of us a Divine Spark, and with it, the capacity to achieve greatness, if we would only use these gifts wisely.
We mourn the immense toll that this virus has taken, and continues to take. Help us to recognize that each death represents not a statistic, but a human being who contributed to Your world, who leaves behind family and friends, and work yet unfinished.
May this pandemic remind us of the sacred value of every human life, and that our answer to your question of Cain is a firm rejection of his values.
We are our brother’s and sister’s keepers, no matter their color, faith or sexual orientation. May the bravery of all in the medical field continue to demonstrate godliness in the world, and may Your Divine Inspiration direct researchers to find treatments to restrain this virus.
May Your Divine Wisdom stimulate leaders to create appropriate strategies to lead us through these days fraught with fear. May Your Divine Love comfort all those who mourn the loss of their loved ones.
May all the departed rest in peace. And let us say: Amen.
Please be well and stay healthy through these next few months until we see each other again in the fall. Zei Gezunt!
Cantor Murray E. Simon.