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Charlie Baker Speaks At An Almost-Empty Temple

March 21, 2020

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker spoke at a nearly empty Jewish synagogue in Newton for a Sabbath service Friday night that was livestreamed.

Because of the spread of coronavirus the governor has limited most public gatherings to 25 people, which has effectively shut off religious services to most congregants of churches and synagogues in the state.

Baker said he laments “the separation it creates for communities of faith” during his remarks Friday, March 20 at Temple Emmanuel, a Conservative Jewish synagogue in Newton Centre.

Baker spoke in humanist terms during his remarks, starting out by praising the quality of the music at Temple Emmanuel.

“As I know many of my friends in the Jewish community really look forward to this day every week because they love the music. But I gotta tell you, part of the reason they love the music because is they love the people, and they love the moments, and they love the teaching, and they love the community that comes with it,” Baker said, according to a video posted on Temple Emmanuel’s Facebook page. “And in some ways, I think one of the cruelest elements of this virus that we’re dealing with these days is the profound contagiousness of it, and the fact that to deal with it one of the things we do is we separate ourselves from some of those traditional moments at our gatherings that are made up in many cases of hugs, kisses, and high-fives, and group hugs, and special, personal, and in some ways intimate and physical moments, and I’m glad that your congregation has a chance to at least pull themselves in a little bit in this temple, which I’m sure means so much to them – all the time, but especially now.”

Baker praised the role of churches, synagogues, and mosques during his remarks. He focused on personal relationships and care for the community, never mentioning God until a passing reference at the end.

“What I really want to say to you is God bless you and thank you for what you do, who you are, and what you mean to so many people here in Massachusetts, who are part of our larger community. Thank you,” Baker said.

Baker’s remarks lasted about 14 minutes. (The video of Baker’s talk at Temple Emmanuel’s Facebook page begins at -44:37 and ends at -30:34.)

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