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Rabbi Emerita Janice Mehring

Rabbi Mehring became the Rabbi Emerita at Congregation Ohr Tzafon 12/31/2021 when she retired from the pulpit. She was ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion, CA, a transdenominational seminary for rabbis, cantors and chaplains.  In addition to her work on the pulpit, Rabbi Mehring is also on the faculty of American Jewish University in Los Angeles where she teaches in the Miller Introduction to Judaism program.  She continues her work on the Central Coast as a community rabbi  working for social justice and dialogue amongst people of varied faith traditions.  She is a former board member for People of Faith for Justice,  a founding member of the Peace Academy of Science and the Arts, consultant for North County Neighboraid, and is a  member of the San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association and the North County Clergy Group. She has sung locally with the  San Luis Obispo Master Chorale and with Canzona, a women's vocal ensemble.  

She is the rabbinic director for the Central Coast Community Hevra Kadisha,  a Board member of HospiceSLO, and served on the the San Luis Obispo County Vaccine Task Force throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rabbi Janice is available for all lifecyle events including weddings, baby namings and funerals.  She welcomes all people, including the LGBTQ+ community to participate fully in the cycles of a Jewish life and family.

The Jewish Community and Vaccination 

The Jewish community at large is clear regarding vaccination and other precautions against the pandemic. All the major denominations of Judaism are very clear that vaccination is a Jewish imperative when recommended by medical professionals.  Rabbi Micah Peltz of the Conservative movement wrote a teshuvah (rabbinic response) on this issue and notes that this imperative applies even when vaccines are approved quickly by an emergency process, as the COVID-19 vaccines have been. This vaccine meets the halakhic standards of a refuah b’dukah, an established treatment.

Jewish law is full of injunctions to protect our health and avoid danger. Moses instructs the Children of Israel, “Be careful and watch yourselves” (Deuteronomy 4:9).  The Torah even commands we put guardrails on our roofs to stay safe (Deuteronomy 22:8). From that directive, Moses Maimonides extrapolated that we should take measures to protect ourselves and others.   Leviticus (19:16) echoes these same messages, with its exhortation to “not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” This is understood in our tradition to mean that we do everything we can to safeguard the health of others.

Wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing and washing hands are not just recommended but are obligated by Jewish law.  These preventive measures are considered mitzvot, spiritual obligations, and vaccines approved by government health agencies are seen as refuot b’dukot, established medical procedures. There is a strong consensus among mainstream Conservative, Reform and Orthodox Jews that it is our ethical obligations to pursue healthy living and to embrace established scientific practices that contribute to the well-being of all. Therefore, with proper medical guidance, Jews are obligated to be vaccinated.

I am fully vaccinated and I wear a button that tells people so.  Please consider being a vaccine advocate by setting an example that will encourage others to do the same. The only way we will end this awful pandemic, get to herd immunity, and be able to fully reopen and recover is to come together as a community and get vaccinated. The loss of over 560,000 people from this plague has been devastating but at this point in the pandemic no one else needs to die from Covid 19 because we have a vaccine. If you have concerns or questions, you are welcome to call me.  If you are still struggling with finding a vaccine appointment, please call me and I will help you.  SLO County has appointments available now as do local pharmacies and hospital clinics for anyone over the age of 12.

Please get vaccinated to take care of yourself, your family, your Jewish community and our community at large.                                                           

Sat, September 23 2023 8 Tishrei 5784