The Power of Community

R. Yochanan ben Zakkai, known for his powers to heal, got sick one day. R. Hanina visited him, held out his hand, and R. ben Zakkai stood up. A student asked why, if R. ben Zakkai was such a great healer, he couldn’t heal himself. The Rabbi answered with the metaphor: “Because the prisoner cannot free himself from prison.” Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 5 One month after celebrating my Bat Mitzvah with my Temple Sinai Dibrot class I suffered a unexpected heart attack. The shock of it, the fear and confusion of living in a formerly fit, now weakened body, and the emotional isolation were all there, and very overwhelming. Also there were my classmates—visiting, feeding, shopping, driving, even gardening for me. And the clergy. They were all my R. Hanina. Judaism views illness as a spiritual teacher and community as the comforting, compassionate healing presence of the other and this was undoubtedly my experience, not only then but again and again with other related medical situations. The Sisterhood, the clergy, the staff and lay leadership, and always the Dibrot. This is what Temple Sinai has come to mean to me – a wise, thoughtful, caring, compassionate community.


-Marcie Solomon