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Taking Care and Taking Action

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Andy Kirschner 3

The rabbis at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue sent out a message acknowledging how the world can be a challenging place to live, and this week was far from an exception. An earthquake shook Nepal and left thousands of people dead. Violence broke out in Baltimore after the funeral of Freddie Gray. The Supreme Court heard the case for marriage equality and protestors shouted loudly outside the building, denouncing homosexuals as sinners. The rabbis made a compelling call to action, and reading their words, I realized how I had missed an opportunity to take that action.  

Amidst everything happening out there in the world, my 11-month-old son, John, was sick. After several days of fever he broke out in a rash. I reluctantly had to Google "baby … rash" for the first time in my life. I'll spare you the hyperlink. If you are a parent, you likely have seen it, and if you are not, trust me that you don't want to yet. After consultation with the doctor it turned out his sickness was relatively benign and the rash was gone by the middle of the week. But while he was sick, even as the world seemed to be crumbling around us, all I could focus on was my little one.  

Objectively speaking, my child's mild illness was in no way as tragic, complicated or shocking as the events going on in the world this week. I was aware of them, yet did not take action to help. Meanwhile, my baby was home from daycare half the week, without enough energy to smile. I was left helplessly holding him in my arms, trying to make him comfortable enough to rest and heal. In that moment, it felt like the most important thing I could be doing in the world. In hindsight, a teeny tiny voice, very deep down, wishes I could have been in two or maybe even more places at once this week. That way I could have helped everyone get better.  

Thankfully, there were those that did take the time and effort to focus their relief efforts outside of their homes. When news broke that villages were leveled from the earthquake, organizations like AJWS and JUF set up emergency campaigns to raise money in support of relief efforts. Local rabbis joined other faith leaders in and around Baltimore and Jews United for Justice joined other social justice organizations to organize peaceful marches in hopes of turning attention away from violence and change the conversation towards the problem of systemic racism in Baltimore. My Facebook feed lit up on Tuesday as friends in D.C. joined counter-protests on the steps of the Supreme Court to support marriage equality for all.  

As for me, my son is well now, smiling most of the day and back to the business of being a happy baby. I am breathing a sigh of relief for that. I also went online and made a donation to support the earthquake relief efforts. I am hopeful my contribution will still make a difference.

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