Where’s God in the Coronavirus? Clergy of All Faiths Weigh In


A rabbi, a pastor, and an imam walked into a pandemic — and realized it was not a joke.

Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Bosnia’s Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric are just three of the more than 40 clerics taking part in an online interfaith initiative dubbed “Coronaspection.” A project of the Jerusalem-based Elijah Interfaith Institute, the project “brings the wisdom of all religions to members of all religions,” said its director, Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein.

The clergy, representing Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and the Bahá’í faith, grapple with the thorny theological questions underlying the pandemic and dwell on the prospective shifts to worship and community in a world of digital congregations. The video conversations include everything from practical advice on how to conquer fear and build spiritual resources, to making the home and family the center of worship, to the power of prayer and questions of whether God sent Cobid-19 as a punishment.

Rabbi David Wolpe, of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles and regular contributor to The Jewish Week, argued the pandemic was a manifestation of what he and Goshen-Gottstein settled on calling “holy randomness.” If the world weren’t random, the rabbi suggested, people would do good only to earn a reward, not out of a sense of real goodness.   

“Coronaspection” videos are available at elijah-interfaith.org.

The Times of Israel