COVID-19 Survivor Jared Diamond and his Doctor to Be Honored at Catholic-Jewish Hanukkah Celebration

Catholic-Jewish Hanukkah Celebration to be Livestreamed this year

November 3, 2020


On Thursday, December 10, at 12:00 noon, members of the San Antonio-area Roman Catholic and Jewish communities will gather for an interfaith Hanukkah celebration.

This marks the 19th year that San Antonio-area Catholics and Jews have jointly celebrated Hanukkah. The Jewish Federation of San Antonio’s Jewish Community Relations Council and the San Fernando Cathedral are the co-sponsors.

In the past, this has been an in-person program and luncheon with over 300 members of the Roman Catholic and Jewish communities in attendance, breaking bread and sharing warm greetings. This year, because of COVID-19, only those with roles on the program will be in person in San Fernando Cathedral Hall. All others will be able to take part virtually.

This year, the ceremony will honor those impacted by COVID-19 and their healthcare workers. Jared Diamond, a member of Congregation Agudas Achim, who survived COVID-19, and his Roman Catholic physician, Dr. Luis Contreras, will light the Hanukkah menorah together. Jared, father of three, suffered from COVID in March and endured a prolonged 25 day hospital stay including needing a ventilator for nine of those days. Jared credits Dr. Contreras and all the healthcare workers at Stone Oak Methodist Hospital in San Antonio with saving his life. Congregation Agudas Achim and the greater community held a prayer service online for Jared while he was in the hospital and hundreds of people joined in praying for his recovery. His daughter, Abby Diamond, inspired by her dad’s ordeal, created a nonprofit called COVID Survivors Group ( to help other survivors of COVID with their prolonged, post-COVID recovery. “My mission is to assist in the recovery of COVID-19 patients by sending them home from the hospital with supplies to aid in their recovery.“ Her efforts include providing blankets, Gatorade, water, and masks to help these families.

Singer Vicki Adelstein will be sharing her beautiful rendition of Debbie Friedman’s arrangement of Mi Shebeirach that she dedicated to Jared and everyone suffering from COVID. She says she was inspired to make the recording because “I was so upset to hear about Jared’s illness I felt called to offer this prayer to all those who were suffering.”  The song offers a prayer of healing for all those who are ill, “Mi shebeirach imoteinu M’kor habrachah l’avoteinu, Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leimah,The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit, And let us say, Amen.“

Featured speaker will be Dr. Renata Furst, Associate Professor of Scripture and Spirituality at Oblate School of Theology. She also serves as Oblate’s Associate Dean for Hispanic Engagement. Professor Furst specializes in Prophetic Literature in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Biblical Hermeneutics, Wisdom Literature, the Pentateuch and Hispanic/Latino(a) Biblical Interpretation.

The Most Rev. Gustavo García-Siller,  M.Sp.S , Archbishop of San Antonio, will be the presiding host for this interfaith observance this year. The Very Rev. Victor Valdez, Rector of San Fernando Cathedral, and Rabbi Samuel M. Stahl, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth-El, will lead the proceedings. Cantor Julie Berlin, the spiritual song leader at Temple Beth-El, will lead the candle lighting prayers.

Free registration for this year’s livestreamed event can be found at Donations are welcome.

Contact:  Lisa Epstein, Director of the JCRC for questions

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