By Clifford Fishman
Special to WJW
I had my second COVID shot this morning. After the woman who would administer the shot wiped my arm and prepared the needle, I asked her to pause for a moment so I could say a prayer. She said, “Of course.” (It was my sense that I was not the first to make such a request.) Then I read the following, which was drafted by Israel’s Masorti movement and Rabbinic Assembly for those receiving the vaccine:
God who answers in times of distress and saves,
“Healer of broken hearts who binds their wounds,”
Who shares divine wisdom with flesh and blood
to create this vaccine: May it be Your will
that through the power of this human effort
aided by God who graciously grants humans knowledge
and teaches mortals understanding, science and discernment,
that I merit health and resilience,
so that these verses may be fulfilled for us:
“And I will remove sickness from your midst,”
“For I, Adonai, am your healer,”
“Let them praise Adonai for God’s steadfast love
and wondrous deeds for humanity.”
Then I recited, in Hebrew and then in English:
Praised are You, who brings healing to all flesh and does wonders.
As I began to read the prayer, the woman began to read it too, in a whisper, and when I finished reading it, she crossed herself and said “Amen.”
I did not ask her name; I would not recognize her again if I saw her. (She, like I, was masked.) But we shared a solemn and uplifting moment together that I will remember for a long time, and perhaps she will, too. It elevated a long-anticipated medical treatment into something even more meaningful.
Clifford Fishman is a longtime member of Tikvat Israel Congregation in Rockville and a professor emeritus of law at Catholic University.