From the Rabbi’s Desk September 2021
Rabbi Carla Freedman
A few weeks ago, as summer was in high gear, and the Delta variant of the Covid virus was still not much in the news, we on the Temple Board of Directors (I am “ex-officio” and do not have a vote…ever) were hopeful that a return to “normalcy” was happening. Today that seems remote again.
Our Board, like that of any other organization I know of, does not have a crystal ball. We take advice from as many sources as we can, and try to do what is right for our community. As time has passed, with both the original Covid and the Delta variant on the rise, we will again make a decision about in-service attendance at services, both on Shabbat evenings and for the High Holy Days. The new normal is…only what we can determine in the given moment. And no matter what we decide, we will have to revisit this matter again and again, as we now understand that Covid is both here to stay and changing rapidly.
Which brings me to the question of what we will wish each other this New Year. The Hebrew greeting says, “May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year”. And on Yom Kippur, we say, “May you be sealed (in the Book of Life) for a good year”. But what constitutes a good year, right now? It is naïve and foolish to wish each other a year without Covid. That time may come, but it’s not here now, and not on the hori-zon any time soon. So, should we wish each other a year of good coping skills? Should we wish each other a year of strength and endurance? Yes, probably.
But we should also wish each other the support of loved ones and friends, and at the same time, renew our efforts to be those friends. Friendship is a two-way street. If you reach out to others, they may very well respond by reaching out to you. If you have some good ideas about surviving the isolation, or even potential lockdowns, please share them with others.
Once the weather cools off a bit, invite some friends to bring coffee and toast (or whatever) to your driveway for a morning, socially distanced, get-together. Take turns hosting this. Maybe host a happy hour the same way (what makes it ‘happy’ is the company, not the food and/or drinks!). Invite some friends to make a car caravan to one of the nearby parks, and finish up again on your driveway, with refreshments and a chance to chat about the caravan experience. Take photos at the park, to share with others.
Pick up some copies of Mad Libs (probably available at “dollar stores” or where games are sold) and play them with your friends on the driveway…you’ll all enjoy the laughs! Get your friends to watch reruns of old TV comedy shows at the same time as you are watching…again, you’ll love the laughs when you talk about them by phone afterward (and no, they don’t make ‘em like they used to!).
Now is the time to get creative and to work on your social connections. Think about what worked for you this past year, and what did not. Think of what you needed most…from others…and offer exactly that to others. If we are lucky and don’t have to lock down, make the most use of every opportunity that comes your way. Think of it all as a challenge to your ingenuity, your resourcefulness, and your value as the friend people turn to.
But most important, do not let this Covid thing get you down. It will try. But you can show it who’s boss by refusing to make isolation and loneliness a way of life. Treat these two tough experiences as temporary and unwelcome, make what adaptations you need to, and exert some effort to meet your social needs despite the Covid realities.
Think about what you will be wishing each other, this yom tov. And do everything you can to protect and preserve your good health. If we all do that, a good year may indeed be in store for us!
Jeanne and I wish you a year of health, peace, and joy. We wish you laughter and joy. we wish you strength and endurance. And we wish you the ability to be the friend you’d like to have.
L’shana tova tikateyvu vtikhateymu…may you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good new year.