April 20, 2020 – Managing During the Pandemic

First I want to express my condolences to those who have faced a loss during this pandemic. There are so many heartbreaking events. Two members of our congregation have died because of covid-19. I hope that there is healing for those who are ill. I pray for an end to this pandemic. I would like to say that I pray for a speedy end to it, but I know it will take some time before it is gone. I also pray for leadership that will unify our nation, ease our pain, speak the truth and help us to heal.

I am feeling fine. I had a televisit with my doctor at Mt. Sinai. She did not want me to go to the hospital in person and she told me not to have a blood test done here in New Jersey. She wants me and Rhonda to stay isolated. We are grateful to the friend who has been doing grocery shopping for us. When the weather is good we have been taking walks but with masks on for the last several weeks, as the doctor told us to do before it became common. Gabe and Marina have postponed their wedding until the fall. Last week Gabe set it up so we could play Boggle, a word game, with them on Zoom. No surprise, they soundly defeated us. Aaron and Deena are fine and continue to work in Minneapolis.

When I sometimes consider the current isolation, I can’t help but think, “Welcome to my world.” I was in quarantine for many months, first in the isolation room at Mt. Sinai and then for many months at home. What was different were the trips to the hospital three times a week. I did have face to face or sometimes mask to face interaction with doctors, nurses, and many other personnel at Mt. Sinai. I think of how that was comforting and how difficult it is now without it. I try to keep connected. I make more phone calls to family and friends. I hosted a Zoom Seder. I am glad that I am a year and a half past the transplant. I can’t imagine what it would be like to need to go to Mt. Sinai multiple times a week and be reliant on transfusions there, as I was for so many months.

I had been, two months ago, beginning to get out of the cocoon I had nested in, going to Shabbat morning services, teaching my Tuesday class, taking some classes at the local community college, and attending meetings of the Fair Lawn Human Relations Committee. Now it is all computer based and while I find it comforting and meaningful to attend a daily minyan service on Zoom, it is just not the same.

I am trying to keep busy. I read my e mail and attend a class on line, work on a new family photo album, read some books, and borrow e-books from the library. I expanded my knowledge of Broadway show tunes after reading an article about recommended ones in the New York Times last week. They listed many of my favorites and who knew there was a hilarious cast album called, When Pigs Fly?

Last week I decided to interrupt my Tuesday class’s study of the Book of Deuteronomy with a Passover lesson from the prophet Ezekiel that is recited during the holiday. He visualizes a valley full of dry animal bones that are resurrected and become living creatures again. It is a message of hope to the Jews who were exiled from their homeland in Israel to Babylonia. Even at that time of fear and anxiety he declares that faith in the future is possible. At one point Ezekiel says “v’avdah tikvateinu – our hope is gone.” The words of HaTikvah, the national anthem of Israel allude to that phrase and add one word to declare, “lo avdah tikvateinu – our hope is not gone.” Let’s look forward to a time for each of us, for our families and the entire world when our period of fear and anxiety will end and we will see a future with renewed optimism, confidence and hope.

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