I’ve commented in this blog before that I’m a lucky guy: I‘ve met so many amazing people in my life. One of them is “my favourite rabbi”, Arthur Bielfeld. I came across Rabbi Bielfeld when I wrote “For Want Of 40 Pounds” about the life of Bert Mann (who’s actually the guy who coined that “my favourite rabbi” phrase).
Arthur is retired now, having served as the spiritual leader of Temple Emanu-El in Toronto for 33 years. Originally from Massachusetts, he graduated Yale University before re-locating to Canada where he led countless community and social justice initiatives. For that work, Arthur was awarded the Order of Canada in 2012.
Arthur’s become a friend and with the current Covid lockdowns, I miss our get-togethers. But I did want to pass along this message he emailed to me recently. It’s worth reading…
A Photo on my Refrigerator Door
A photo on my refrigerator door almost says it all.
The adorable face of my friends’ six month old baby peers at me with irresistible, innocent eyes each time I visit the fridge, which is all too frequently during these days of the pandemic. Looking at that beautiful ‘punim’ acts as a corrective to the frustration and fear, to the self absorption and the inevitable moments of loneliness or isolation that have accompanied me during this past year. He helps me to refocus my thoughts and to remember what this challenging time is all about, not just my own survival, but a better world for the generations to come.
Not surprisingly, he is a white, curly-blond Jewish baby, well fed and well cared for. But, he’s not the only kind of kid who Project Love My Neighbour has in its sights. LMN is about the millions of children and adults living in the 92 poorer nations of our world who have very little access to the Covid vaccine that can save their lives - and ours. For, if this rampaging virus has taught us anything, it’s that in our world nobody is safe until everybody is safe.
LoveMyNeighbourProject.org is a way of paying forward the cost of these vaccines with compassion for others and concern for ourselves by sharing that cost with 38 million other Canadians of all faiths and, perhaps, of no traditional faith. Like the Vietnamese Boat People initiative of the mid 1970s, it has attracted an extraordinary outpouring of support from organizations across our nation in a very brief time. Why not get in on this remarkable project at the ground level? Just click on the website listed above to learn how you can participate. And remember: the LMN project draws its name from the Levitical commandment (chapter 19 verse 18): “You shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am Adonai.”
We go public on May the fourth. “May the fourth be with us!”
Rabbi Arthur Bielfeld
Our LMN website is a work in progress. But if you take a little time to click on some of the informational categories, you’ll find that we have already raised more that $130k since its launch. I’m adding a link to a very short video interview with Dan Abramson, the Director of the Tikkun Project at Leo Baeck Day School, which illuminates one way LMN is inspiring our littlest children to engage in this activity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4_3pRC6KV0