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Commemorating World AIDS Day

Commemorating World AIDS Day

Female hands holding red ribbon for AIDS awareness

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, I ask you to please read the final lines from American playwright Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, which you’ll find below.

For the sake of context, it’s important to remember that at the time of the play’s publication and performance, in the early 1990s, AZT and other HIV drugs were just beginning to turn the disease from a death sentence to a condition people could live with. In this closing monologue, the main character, just starting to regain strength, bravely vows to end the shame and silence surrounding the epidemic. Standing at the Bethesda Fountain of New York City’s Central Park, he reflects on the nature of love and loss, life and death.

“The fountain’s not flowing now, they turn it off in the winter, ice in the pipes. But in the summer, it’s a sight to see. I want to be around to see it, I plan to be. I hope to be.

This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all, and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won't die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now. You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. And I bless you: More Life. The Great Work Begins.”

Though we may be on the brink of discovering a vaccine, the fact remains that more than one million people die of HIV/AIDS every year. On World AIDS Day, please consider a donation to an organization dedicated to AIDS prevention and research – and join me in continuing to remind our elected officials that this epidemic is still deserving of our attention and investment.

Download this Mishebeirach prayer for those dealing with HIV/AIDS, then learn more about the importance of educating others about global and domestic HIV/AIDS issues through a Jewish perspective by visiting www.rac.org/hivaids.

Rabbi David Wirtschafter is the rabbi of Temple Adath Israel in Lexington, KY. Confronting violence in classic Jewish texts and contemporary society is the focus of his work in progress, The Torah They Never Taught You, Bad Stories from The Good Book.

Rabbi David Wirtschafter
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