By Aviva Weisbord, Ph.D. for Where, What, When
As it appeared in the August 7, Back to School issue of Where, What, When. (pages 60, 62)
It’s been almost five months, yet the Coronavirus still lurks among us. We’re getting used to living with a low level of anxiety. Will my family be safe and well? Will I have a job next week? We have no way of knowing, no sense of what tomorrow looks like. We all have a litany of negatives when it comes to the Coronavirus, especially masks and social distancing. Somehow, though, as we begin to emerge from certain restrictions, many of us are suddenly realizing the silver linings in the heavy COVID-19 clouds. Here are a few items on a list of lessons learned and aspects to be grateful for during this pandemic. Please share your own lists with WWW readers for the next edition.
- Now that everyone’s been home for four months, we’ve been able to bond with family members in new and deeper ways. Adult children are back from Yeshiva and college and families feel whole in a new way; some are (secretly) reluctant to give up this precious togetherness. (I know, some can’t WAIT to give up the togetherness, but we’re focused on the positive right now!)
- We now know how resilient we truly are: Think of all the people who made Pesach for the first time.
- We became more daring, learning from YouTube how to unclog a sink or give a somewhat passable haircut. We discovered that we can work productively from home, learned to use Zoom like the experts and discovered how few articles of clothing and jewelry we actually need.
- We’ve learned how to think out of the box as we try to stay connected and help others cope. Shuls, local organizations, our own Associated and Ahavas Yisrael have become innovative in supporting the newly unemployed, helping families with basic needs and taking care of seniors with Shabbos packages and other services. SHEMESH, for example, was able to redirect funds from professional development that can’t be implemented during COVID to helping children catch up with their reading skills. (Many thanks to the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family, whose directors recognized the vital importance of supporting children’s development over the summer.)
- Slowly, as we’ve pulled out of the rat race, we are becoming human beings instead of human doings. Forced to stay home, we are learning that life is so much more than running from one errand or commitment to the next. We’ve rediscovered and deepened relationships. We have time to think, learn, read; to get back in touch with ourselves and remember why we are here in this world.
- As we shop less, we often use the money saved to increase our tzedaka giving. We have more time to listen to shiurim, now available in daily abundance. It seems we’re getting back to the things that matter, such as chesed at home and beyond, careful speech and a new ability to daven more slowly and with greater concentration. Since we don’t have to think about traffic and timing the red lights, we can look more closely at the words we say each day and take them to heart. Back to basics means there are fewer “shoulds” in our lives.
- People are mentioning a new-found appreciation for the extraordinary community we are fortunate to live in, gratitude compounded by the comments from individuals in other cities that just don’t have the services and caring that we have.
We all know – at least we THINK we know – that this pandemic won’t last forever, even though it may feel like it. Let’s hope we can maintain our hold on the lessons we’ve learned and the skills we’ve acquired over these interminable months: Hashem is in charge, we need to rely upon Him with absolute trust and with determination to live our lives the way He wants us to, instead of the way society says we must. Let’s not let this pandemic pass into the history books with no mention of the major positive impact it has had on our national consciousness.