Cars are guided to COVID-19 vaccinations at the Petco Park parking lot super station. Photo by Chris Stone

Thank You San Diego

I was overjoyed when my appointment to receive the vaccine at Petco Park was confirmed. It happened in a flash, after snagging several dates, only to have them disappear into the ether before I could confirm. But there it was. Suddenly I was confirmed and had 50 minutes to make it downtown. I was vaccinated 45 minutes later.

This is a thank you to all those involved who made that shot possible. A deeply felt expression of gratitude by one who is overwhelmed by the thought of what it took to get that needle into my arm Sunday morning.

Gratitude has been defined as a feeling you get when something wonderful is done for you that you feel you did not have any reason to expect or deserve. That’s how I felt Sunday as the nurse vaccinated me and joyous tears streamed down my face.

When that appointment was confirmed, I was overjoyed. I thought, “Thank you to all the computer geniuses who put together this intricate electronic system that allowed me to enter the county coronavirus web page and end up at the UC San Diego Health portal to establish an account and confirm my appointment.”

Then I hopped in my car and raced down to Petco Park. I was grateful that people had built the freeway that sped me to my destination in a matter of minutes. As I got close to the park, I saw people directing traffic so that there was a steady and peaceful flow of cars into the lot. It moved so fluidly that I shouted out to them, “Thank you!” One said to me, “You’re welcome! But if it weren’t for the folks directing traffic in the lot, we’d have nowhere to send you!”

I entered the lot and immediately was directed into a line leading to check-in. I thanked the person who pointed to the left and he said back to me, “You’re welcome. But if those folks at the check-in weren’t so efficient, I couldn’t direct you anywhere!”

A few minutes later one of those staffing the check-in took my information. When she confirmed my appointment, I said, “Thank you!” She said, “You’re welcome. But I tell you, if the medical people administering the shots weren’t so efficient, you’d be stuck here!”

Another few minutes and a nurse prepared to administer the vaccine to me. I was overcome with emotion. When he was done, I said, “Thank you so much!” The nurse said “You’re welcome, but if it weren’t for the incredible scientists who developed this vaccine, we wouldn’t be here today!”

So, I thank the scientists as well, whose good work is offering us all some hope for a bright, coronavirus-free future. And I thank everyone: the folks directing traffic, the medical personnel, the county, UC San Diego and the city of San Diego. It took a community to get that vaccine into my arm.

When Jews say thank you to God for food, we bless God “who brings forth bread from the earth.” At first glance, that blessing isn’t accurate. God doesn’t bring forth bread from the earth. I get bread from a grocer, who gets it from a baker, who got flour from a miller, who got wheat from a farmer, who got earth and sun and seed from the Creator of the Universe. And all those folks were endowed with intelligence, and in partnership with God created the bread I enjoyed for lunch today. That’s what the Jewish blessing over the bread means.

God gave us the stuff of the universe and our intellects to do wondrous things like make bread and create vaccines. Thank God.

Michael Berk is Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel, the largest Jewish congregation in San Diego and the oldest in Southern California.

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