June 1, 2020
Evanston service for the National Day of Mourning and Lament for the over 100,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of people from around the globe who have died of COVID-19.
100,000 dead in the US alone. Yet we cannot let them be statistics. Every human life is precious, and no person is a number. Each one is a unique human being with a life and stories. Each one who has died has left loved ones who are grieving. As a society, we mourn with the bereaved, lamenting the deaths of so many of our fellow citizens.
Yet we must also recognize today that this memorial service comes at the end of a week of rage, anger and frustration over the indiscriminate [I would say targeted] killing of black people in our society. Although the COVID-19 virus does not distinguish between races, black people in this country have died from this disease at a far higher rate than others. We cannot mourn those who have died without committing ourselves to building a society in which everyone has access to good health care, housing, safe neighborhoods and opportunities to earn a living in humane working conditions.
In the Jewish tradition we say of those who have died, “May their memory be a blessing.” We open our hearts to those who have lost loved ones to this terrible disease. May the memories of your beloveds sustain you in these difficult days.
Today we pay our respects. Tomorrow we must continue to build a world based on love, compassion and dignity for all people.