A Prayer for Receiving the COVID Vaccine

by Rabbi Naomi Levy

I have been praying for this day and now it is here!
With great excitement, a touch of trepidation
And with deep gratitude
I give thanks
To all the scientists who toiled day and night
So that I might receive this tiny vaccination
That will protect me and all souls around this world.
With the pandemic still raging
I am blessed to do my part to defeat it.
Let this be the beginning of a new day,
A new time of hope, of joy, of freedom
And most of all, of health.
I thank You, God, for blessing me with life
For sustaining my life
And for enabling me to reach this awe-filled moment.


It can be easy for us to walk through the world and our lives without really being present.  While dwelling on the past and living for the future are common pastimes, it is physically impossible to live anywhere but the present moment.  We cannot step out our front door and take a left turn to May of last year, any more than we can take a right turn to December 2025.  Nevertheless, we can easily miss the future we are waiting for as it becomes the now we are too busy to pay attention to.  We then spend the rest of our time playing “catch up” to the moment that we just let pass by.  During moments like these, it is important to remember that there is only NOW.

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There are some people who believe that our lives are predestined, and that we should resign ourselves to our lots in life.  Yet the truth is that it is up to each one of us to decide what that destiny will be.  While each of us is born with a life purpose, it is up to us whether or not we will say yes to fulfilling it.  And just like when we choose what to eat, who to keep company with, and whether to turn right or left when we leave our home every day, choosing to say yes to your destiny is a decision that can only be realized when you take action to make that choice a reality.

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A Meaningful Reaction

Every interaction between parent and child involves choice. The great painter, Benjamin West, told the story of how, as a young boy, he decided to paint a picture of his sister while his mother was not at home. He took out the bottles of ink and started to draw, but soon he had made an awful mess.

His mother eventually returned home and saw the mess.  But instead of scolding him she listened to another inner voice.  She chose to pick up the portrait and she declared: “What a beautiful picture of your sister!” Then she kissed him. Later in life, Benjamin West said: “With that kiss, I became a painter.”

Hot Dog Story

Once there was a man who had a hot dog stand; and this man was so proud of his product – he really believed that his dogs were the very best hot dogs that anyone ever made – that he would announce with great pride to the people passing by:  “Get them here, world’s best hot dogs, get them here.”  People would be so impressed by the enthusiasm in his voice that they would stop and buy his product.

The man did very well, so well in fact, that when his son got old enough, he sent the boy to college to study business administration, thinking that boy might enter the business with him when he got back.  All the time the boy was away at college, the father continued to sell his hot dogs with pride and with excitement.

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A Chasidic Story

       There is a wonderful Chasidic story about the child of a rabbi who used to wander in the woods.  At first his father let him wander, but over time he became concerned.  The woods were dangerous.  The father did not know what lurked there.

       He decided to discuss the matter with his child.  One day he took him aside and said:  “You know, I have noticed that each day you walk into the woods.  I wonder, why do you go there?”

       The boy said to his father:  “I go there to find God.”

       “That is a very good thing,” the father said gently.  “I am glad you are searching for God.  But, my child, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?”  “Yes” answered the boy; “but I’m NOT.”

With warmth and affection,

Rabbi Sally Olins, DD

A Story

         Margaret and her husband, Paul, were struggling financially.  Paul gave Margaret their last $40 and had warned her to spend it cautiously. 

         Margaret bought some groceries and a “few good bargains”, including some gold wrapping paper.  After returning home, Paul became angry that Margaret had “wasted” the money.

         Paul, feeling frustrated, sarcastically asked their four-year-old daughter, Tina, would you go and get that gold paper your mother wasted the money on?  After some time had passed, and Tina had not yet returned with the paper, Paul went into the other room to find the youngster surrounded by gold paper with scissors in hand.  In front of her were a half-wrapped shoe box and an empty tube where the wrapping paper had been.  Paul scolded his daughter with angry words.

         The following morning, Paul was still upset.  It was his birthday.  Little Tina picked up the half-wrapped package and went to her father.  She handed the gift and said:  “Daddy, it’s for you.”  Paul took the package and shook it gently.  It was light.  Nothing rattled.  Paul carefully opened the wrapping and looked inside; but at the discovery of the contents, his anger began to rise again. 

        It’s empty!  You wasted the paper!  Don’t you know that if you give a gift, you have to put something in the box before you wrap it?  As tears began streaming down Tina’s face, she explained:  “But Daddy, I did put something in the box!  I blew all my kisses into it.  It’s full of love just for you!”

With warmth and affection,

Rabbi Sally Olins, DD

A Vision of Tomorrow

         There once was a man who was the leader of his people.  He knew the time was near to turn the reins of authority over to one of his three children; but he did not know which one.  He called them all together and said:  “I am old and ready to pick my successor.  Go down into the valley and see what you can find.  Whoever brings back that which is most important will lead our people.”

         After only a day, the first two returned.  “What have you brought?” asked the father.

         “I have brought a branch from the trees that grow in the valley.  They will shade us and feed us and give us wood to build our houses.”

         Said the second, “I have brought some forage for our flocks and herds so that we might prosper.”

         Two days later, the third child finally came back.  He was holding nothing.  “What have you brought?” the father asked.  “In my hands, nothing,” he replied.  “But I have gone down into the valley and then climbed the mountain on the other side.  From the top, I could see beautiful rolling plains where we can farm and where we can spread out as far as the eye can see; and we can become whatever we wish.”

         “You are the one who shall lead,” said the father “for you have brought back the greatest gift of all – a vision of tomorrow.”

         May we all share in the vision of a peaceful and healthy summer.

With warmth and affection,

Rabbi Sally Olins, DD

Failure Is Never Final

Failure is never final!

The only time you can’t afford to fail is the very last time you try.  Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure; it just means you haven’t yet succeeded.

Failure doesn’t mean you have accomplished nothing; it just means you’ve learned something.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been disgraced; it just means you dared to try.

Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes; it just means you must do things differently next time.

Failure doesn’t mean you’re inferior; it just means you’re not perfect.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your time; it just means you have a reason to start over.

Failure doesn’t mean you should give up; it just means you must try harder.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it; it just means you need more patience.

Failure doesn’t mean you’re wrong; it just means you must find a better way.

With warmth and affection,

Rabbi Sally Olins, DD

Rabbi Sally - The People's Rabbi