The rabbi’s extended family

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (stljewishlight.com).   Joel Iskiwitch and John DeMott, authors of the  “What can you do?”  sidebar, are congregants at TE.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

I was attending a function that included many of my congregants. The company and food were outstanding. My husband and I were thoroughly enjoying ourselves when my husband noticed there was a missed call on my phone from our son’s summer camp.

We knew he had been in the infirmary with a temperature and cold but was released after one night. This call was to tell us he was back in with a higher temperature. The strep test was negative and they would be keeping him another night and subsequent day.

It became very quiet when I told a few individuals. In the meantime, my husband was on the phone asking to speak to the nurse. It may be fair to disclose that our son was very far away and this was his first time at sleep away camp. Furthermore, Australians (my husband), who love their travel and “gap” years are not in the habit of sending young children away for weeks at a time.

Then the talking and sharing began. “Tell them to do another strep test tomorrow.” “Start him on an antibiotic.” “No water sports for a couple of days.” I almost took the phone from my husband and gave it to one of my congregational family members! We were surrounded by several Jewish mothers and fathers who had traveled this road before and knew exactly what to do.

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I was being led by my congregation. The next day I received inquiries into how our son was doing. My new family cares deeply for my “home” family. They were, of course, concerned for our child, but also for the parents, knowing this can be a tough moment to move through. Isn’t that what families do together?