A spark of holiness entered the walls of Temple Emanu-El this week as we welcomed Worldwide Pandemic Solutions into our building for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The last thing to be celebrated in Temple Emanu-El’s old Brill Family Social Hall pre-pandemic was Purim 2020. Then, just a few days later, the world shut down. It was over that summer that the contractors completed the renovations -- and there it was, a beautiful, new, sparkling social hall, with no one able to enjoy it.
It is quite fitting to the value system of Temple Emanu-El that the first use of this space is a vaccination site. This is especially the case, as vaccines are the very thing we need people to receive so that we can hold Purim, and many events and gatherings, in our sparkling new space.
Our Torah portion this week is Acharei Mot-Kedoshim. Positioned against laws about the duties of Priests, fasting and atonement, sacrifices and sexual relations, we find a list of commandments that instruct the Israelites how to be holy. Opening your home as a vaccination site didn’t exactly make the cut, but we are commanded, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I, Adonai, am your God” (Lev. 19:34).
At this time, we are truly showing our love to our neighbors in one of the most profound ways we can: By providing them with a space to receive a vaccine that could not only save their life but the lives of all those around them.
May our congregation continue to bring holiness into the world and may we all find ways to elevate holiness in our communities.