By Rotem Bar
Who would have thought that in 2020 there would be a worldwide pandemic that would completely change the world as we know it? Who would have thought that our grandparents would celebrate Passover seder alone in their houses? That schools would be closed and that all social events would be forbidden?
This new reality is so strange, it seems to me like the 2020 version of the biblical flood. Is the universe, God or whoever it is you believe in trying to send us a message? I find myself lately playing a lot with this idea in my head, thinking what it is we have been doing wrong, how we can improve and do things differently the day after and what it is we can do now to better the situation, to stay strong and positive.
I am not going to deny the past month has been difficult, it has. But at the same time, with the challenges come opportunities. Over the past month, I have been trying to make lemonade out of my lemons. On a personal level, I have now, more than ever before, had time to do things that I haven’t done in a long time. For example, I have been able to exercise more, and I am now in the best running schedule I have ever been! I have time to practice my French on Duolingo and notice how beautiful spring in the Lehigh Valley is. I am trying new recipes, taking long baths, catching up on the shows everybody talks about, talking more with my grandparents and having virtual dance parties with my friends. Through Zoom, we have had a few huge family gatherings which I doubt we would have been able to pull off in a real-life setting with such an impressive attendance. I hosted my first seder with two close friends, and I made sure that we would all feel the smells and tastes of home as much as we could, and it was truly special.
As far as continuing being a shlicha from home, I constantly try to think of what I can do to reach out. I have been making daily videos that go up on Facebook where I can share with you Israeli or personal recipes, make crafts, do Israeli dancing and other activities through which I hope to reach out to as many people as I can. Who knew that during my last months of Shlichut I could be introduced to more people and bring Israel to maybe a new crowd? Definitely a lemonade moment! I am taking advantage of social media and the fact that my friends and family in Israel are home as well and have brought some of them to talk to the JDS students. And I’m connecting with the community for the “Yoms” through different platforms and programs.
It is weird for me to commemorate and celebrate those days not in Israel, and this virtual reality adds a new layer of complexity. I am disappointed that all of the exciting programs I have been working on in general and especially for the national days had to be canceled, but I am excited to be able to celebrate virtually as a community, wearing blue and white proudly at home while seeing everyone online.
My heart goes out to all affected by COVID-19, and I hope this all passes soon. I know we will get through this together! I invite you all to stay in touch trough social media, and I am also available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send me a message if you want to connect, have an idea, a thought or a comment. I miss seeing all of you in our encounters at Federation, JCC, JDS, JFS and the synagogues. Hope to see you all very soon. Stay strong, healthy, be well, and don’t forget to turn those lemons into lemonade!
With Love, Rotem
Follow the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley on Facebook to see Rotem every day through her videos.