The week of Thanksgiving in the United States is normally one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. But what we know as normal does not exist anymore.
With the rate of Covid-19 infections dramatically rising, officials have been warning Americans about the dangers of traveling to see loved ones. In spite of the warnings, three million Americans have already opted to travel by plane last weekend.
The question is, is it wise to travel this year?
The straight answer is no. We all know how easily transferrable the virus is one from person to another person. That being said, I understand the reasons that some have decided that seeing family and/or friends is important.
With many colleges going completely remote until the Spring semester, students have no choice but to travel. After months of obeying stay at home orders, seeing another four walls and a fresh face is emotionally necessary. Phone calls, Zoom, and other ways of electronically connecting are fine. But, they will never be able to replace the experience of physically being in the same room with someone else.
The truth is that there is no law that will force Americans to stay home. There can only be recommendations and advice from both the scientific/medical community and government officials. What we do with that information is up to the individual.
I can only hope that the prediction of an additional surge in cases stemming from this week stays in the realm of “what if” and does not become reality.
As indestructible as human beings believe we are, Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that she will always be one step ahead of us.
Next weekend is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Covid-19 has forced Jewish instuitions to rework how to approach one of the most important days of the year.
To say that it will feel weird is an understatement. Traditional holiday services will be limited and many will turn to Zoom to participate virtually. Instead of getting together with family and friends, social distancing and wearing masks will continue to be the norm.
To those who celebrate, wherever you are and whatever you do, have a sweet and Happy New Year.
It is without a doubt that the corona-virus has changed everything about the way we live our lives.
That includes religious practice.
Wednesday and Thursday were the first and second nights of Passover, respectively. For many Jews, a normal Passover Seder consists of a large group of family and friends coming together to eat, drink and tell the story of Passover. But, with the influence of corona-virus, the traditional Seder had to be amended.
My family, many others, used Zoom to digitally get together with our loved ones.
I think the best perspective on this new way of conducting Seders can be best summed up by a statement my father made Wednesday night. He said that his father, my late grandfather (who died 30 years ago), would not at all have approved.
My grandfather (Z”l) was in a certain sense, a man of tradition. He believed in and lived by the Judaism that he loved. That love of Judaism and our traditions were passed to his children and later, his grandchildren. It is one of the reasons that I am still a Jew in every sense of the word and proud of my faith.
While my grandfather would not have approved of Wednesday and Thursday nights, I know that it was the right thing. Not being in the same room with our family and friends was weird. But if I had a choice of holding a Zoom Seder or having none at all, I would choose a Zoom Seder.
It is without a doubt that the coronavirus has upended our lives as we know them to be.
This includes religious practice. With the holidays of Easter, Passover, and Ramadan coming quickly, the faithful must find new ways to celebrate their respective holidays while following the recommendations of the experts.
Across the country and across the world, religious leaders are turning to video conferencing services programs such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other programs to hold services.
What is frustrating to me is that there are some who are are willingly putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones in danger by acting as life is normal. Last month, a Fundamentalist church in Indiana held services in spite of warnings against holding large gatherings. In Israel and in my hometown of New York City, some ultra-Orthodox Jews ignored the edicts by the government to prevent coronavirus from spreading further than it already has spread.
Anyone who has read this blog knows of my Jewish faith. Though I am not as religious as others, my faith is important to me. Passover starts Wednesday night. My family, like many other families, are being creative when it comes to the Seder and the traditional ways of telling the Passover story.
If the coronavirus has taught us one thing, it is that it takes a little flexibility to get through tough times. To say that we are going through tough times is an understatement. That requires us to understand that we cannot live as we did a month ago. Those who willingly ignore that fact endanger us all.