Fifteen minutes. Today, I think it was only ten. That is how long it takes me every Thursday to get tested for Covid-19. From the moment I pull into the Mercantile Parking Garage until I leave with my validated parking ticket, I rarely – if ever – stay longer than fifteen minutes.
Even though I am fully vaccinated (and boosted!), I get tested every Thursday at the UMass free testing site on 201 Commercial Street (check website for days/times open). I decided that if I am leading services unmasked in front of the congregation, it is my obligation to take every precaution I can to ensure the safety of our in-person service participants. Our guest musician, Rick Recht, was also tested before he made the trip to Worcester and will additionally take a rapid test on Friday morning.
We are very blessed in Massachusetts to have such easy access to testing and to the vaccine. By now, everyone 12 and over has had ample opportunity to be fully vaccinated. As of last week, the vaccine was approved for children ages 5-11. This will be a “game-changer” for our country, our city, and even our synagogue. With everyone vaccinated (who can be), I have a feeling that we will feel more comfortable being together in person. My hope and prayer is that the rest of the world will be blessed with the same access to vaccines that we have been.
Judaism and our Jewish values guide us in how we care for each other, our health, and the protection of life. We are told that pikuach nefesh – the value of protecting human life – overrides all other laws and obligations. We couldn’t have a clearer statement than this about the Jewish imperative to get ourselves and our children vaccinated, to wear masks, to be aware of how we can protect ourselves and others. It’s values like these that create vibrant and meaningful lives for ourselves and those around us.