The minutes turn into hours. The hours turn into days. The days turn into months. And we are still here doing what we do best – reaching out to the community through calls, emails, Zoom, and texts.
We are all experiencing a new normal that fills us with trepidation, anxiety and longing. When will be able to meet with our friends, go back to work in our offices, shake hands or give someone a hug? When will we be able to go about life as we knew it? Quite frankly, I don’t know that we ever will experience life in the same way after going through this pandemic. I believe COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the way we live, interact, work and play.
But, different doesn’t mean bad. This new way of life has caused me to reflect and to appreciate all that I have. I value the time I have with my son, Brett, who lives in New York and has been staying with us for the past month. I appreciate his kindness and sensitivity, and enjoy seeing that little smile with dimples that I am now lucky to see every day.
I am more attuned to the needs of others. I make a point of talking to my mother on FaceTime at least once a day as she is 92 and lives alone in Philadelphia in a two-room apartment. She looks forward to seeing Brett and me each evening where we share laughs, pictures, good books and updates on TV shows. Brett sends her magazines, puzzles and books as well as gloves and masks for her to use when she gets her mail or empties her trash. He even set her up on Alexa with video so her world has opened up to books on tape, music and cable series.
Despite all this, she is alone and I never quite appreciated how hard it must be to be confined and alone for so long without seeing another person face to face. Her eyes, filled with tears on the first night of Seder, said it all. It was the first time she was truly alone on a holiday in her whole life.
I have a renewed appreciation for our Jewish value of Chesed, acts of loving kindness. This pandemic has afforded me the opportunity of bringing an elderly person a box of matzah, Shabbos flowers, reaching out to others for no other reason than saying hello and checking in and sharing home baked cakes and Passover treats with friends even if I only leave them at their door.
This pandemic, as scary as it is, is not all bad as it has heightened my senses to things I have done out of habit in the past but now do with a new sense of purpose and intention. The little things matter. Chesed is a precious value and I am thankful for the influence it has on my life.
I am thankful for my health and deeply saddened by the loss of so many. The suffering is pervasive. I don’t know how long it will go on. None of us do. However, what I do know is our acts of loving kindness make a difference. Reach out to others. Be there to listen. Provide comfort. Share a joke or a concert online. Be a connector. Be a friend.
A community is too heavy to carry alone, Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:10. We need each other. Through Chesed, we can make the world a better place.
Stay safe and be healthy.