The rules affecting all of us as members of a community straddling East London and Essex will change at midnight tonight. In many settings, going up a tier might be a good thing, but not so in terms of the Coronavirus three tier system. The move to tier 2 is a confirmation that things have been getting worse in the areas in which you and I live. It’s news that could well be having an unsettling effect on you and those around you.
At any time, but especially when uncertainty has been the only certainty for the past seven months, and this seems likely to be the case for the next few months at least, this can be difficult for individuals. When everyone is experiencing their own unique version of a national and international traumatic experience, no-one has a detached and potentially calmer perspective.
If you’re anything like me, you have times when you want the ‘film’ to end and normality to return. Or you want, like Dorothy, to return from Oz to home. Or you feel angry at the latest change in government rules, whether legally enforceable or ‘merely’ guidelines. Or you feel upset at other people not wearing masks or holding a street party or suchlike. And you could experience all these feelings in any one hour!
Last Saturday was World Mental Health Day. We mentioned it and encouraged everyone to talk, share, be helpful to others, and be willing to be helped by others. Today, I encourage you all to re-fill, as best you can, your kindness tanks, so that you can be a little more willing to support, act kindly to, or be charitable to other people, both friends and strangers.
Further, when we talk about strangers, many of us in this community need to appreciate that we fall into mainstream groups of people. When everything I’ve written about already is compounded and amplified by being a member of an additional discriminated-against group, then the challenge of staying in equilibrium and remaining calm is so much greater.
Next Thursday, we will have the opportunity to watch and discuss a film written by and starring our member Naomi Joseph. “Criteria” is wonderfully creative, thought-provoking, and interesting short film, and after watching it together, Naomi will be in conversation with Emma James, our council member with lead responsibility for Inclusion. You can watch it prior to the evening by clicking on this link.
We shall be gathering an Inclusion Task Force together over the coming two to three weeks. If you feel you’d like to be involved, please contact me or leave a message for Emma via Sam or Nick.
I wish you a Shabbat shalom and also ask you to keep yourself and others safe,
Rabbi Richard Jacobi