Counting the Omer: Day 28 (May 2, 2015)

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By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

According to some mystical teachings, the 28th day of the omer is malkhut shebenetzach, “the eternity of the earth.” How painful to reflect on such a term in these days of global warming, in this week of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. In our 2013 trip to Nepal, Tracy and our travel companions saw many of the human made and God made wonders (including amazing Nepali people) now damaged or destroyed in this earthquake. Our hearts are breaking this week.

It puts me in mind of a midrash set in the Garden of Eden: God gave Adam & Eve a tour of the garden, and God said, “Look at My works. See how beautiful they are, how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil or destroy My world—for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.” [Eccesiastes Rabbah 7:13]

Of course it is difficult to judge the cause of the earth’s upheaval. We know not every earthquake, sunami, hurricane or volcanic eruption is caused by human neglect of the planet. But whether it was caused by human interference or not, we can, as God instructed us long ago, turn our attention to repair and restoration. So in the aftermath of the devastation, on this Shabbat with its invitation to consider the “eternity of the earth,” can we turn our focus to help rebuild, comfort and sustain? Lest we lose more, there are ways to help.

The American Jewish World Service is one of many organizations focusing immediate attention on the people and the land of Nepal. Here is a message from them and how we can help heal:

In a few hours, I’m heading to Nepal as a member of American Jewish World Service’s (AJWS) Emergency Response Team.

Last Saturday’s massive earthquake has already killed more than 6,000 people. Roads are blocked by landslides and debris. Displaced people—including pregnant women and young children—are sleeping outside in the freezing cold.

The people of Nepal need our help.

As soon as I heard of the devastation, my team immediately mapped out relief efforts and began sending aid to our partners in Nepal—local organizations best suited to helping the most vulnerable people and communities affected by the quake:
New and expectant mothers
Families already living in extreme poverty
Tibetan refugees
Dalits—who are “untouchables” under Nepal’s caste system and would otherwise receive fewer life-saving services during this chaotic time
LGBT people who face terrible discrimination in Nepal
One of our partners near Kathmandu is Tewa, Nepal’s Women’s Fund. Right now, Tewa is providing food, clean water, blankets and medical care to pregnant women and those who gave birth before or during the earthquake.

In one village where they’re working, 500 of the 800 houses have collapsed entirely, and residents are camping under thin plastic sheets.

Tewa’s Executive Director, Sadhana Shrestha, wrote to me, “They are all shattered, and so are we. Please continue the prayers and support. Our communities need it to be even stronger.”

Our other partners are using their local knowledge of the mountainous terrain to reach some of the hardest-hit areas, where they’re distributing food, emergency medical care and tents.

Please, send your gift right now to help Nepal’s homeless, poor and most vulnerable families.

With gratitude for your generosity during this heartbreaking time,
Sam Wolthuis
Director of Disaster Response & International Operations
American Jewish World Service

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