Rabbi Yohanan, a renowned healer, fell ill. When his colleague Rabbi Hanina came to visit, he asked if Rabbi Yochanan wished to be healed. Rabbi Yochanan said, “yes.” Rabbi Hanina said, “Give me your hand.” When Rabbi Yohanan gave him his hand, he was uplifted (healed). Why was Rabbi Yohanan, who was so powerful at healing others, unable to simply heal himself? The rabbis explained: “Prisoners cannot free themselves from prison.” -Adapted from Talmud Berachot 5b
This teaching points to a fundamental truth: our health and well-being depend on our taking care of one another. As our congregation prepares to resume gathering in-person in this new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be guided by this wisdom.
We ask that every adult AARC member enter into a Brit Briyut, a covenant for mutual well-being. A covenant is a sacred and solemn mutual agreement. This Brit Briyut is based on these Jewish values:
- Pikuah Nefesh/ Preserving Life
- Kol Yisrael Aravim Zeh Lah Zeh/ Mutual Responsibility
- Shivyon/ Equity
- Shalom Bayit/ Communal Harmony
Based on these values, we affirm our obligation to:
- Protect one another by promoting public health policy and encouraging vaccination when possible.
- Act responsibly for our own well-being and that of our fellow congregants, guests, and staff.
- Ensure that connection and participation are accessible to members of our community who are not able to join in-person.
We therefore covenant with one another to ensure our mutual health and well-being.
The Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation’s board and staff commit to:
- Continually solicit expert advice and solicit input from members on measures to protect life and minimize risk to the health of our community.
- Implement congregational Health and Well-Being Guidelines based on advice and input. These guidelines will be updated as needed in response to changing health conditions and scientific understanding. These guidelines will be accessible on the congregation website.
- Work to reduce COVID risk, and to facilitate multi-access experiences in which members can participate fully either on-site or online.
As a congregant, I shall:
- Commit to our congregation’s Jewish values.
- Minimize risk to myself and others by following the latest AARC Health and Well-Being Guidelines whenever I choose to attend in-person events.
- Understand that conditions are constantly changing, and decisions may have to be made at the last minute in order to protect the health of our congregation and community.
- Hold myself and others accountable for following Health and Well-Being Guidelines. Take and receive tochecha with grace and kindness.
- Be respectful and aware that we as a community are doing our best to manage this uncertainty and working hard to implement difficult decisions.
(Adapted from Brit Briyut of Congregation Bet Haverim of Atlanta.)