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The Jewish Report Editorial

Get on with living … cautiously

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Too many people I’m close to have COVID-19. My housekeeper, two close friends, my sister and her family, and my rabbi. Go figure!

This is way too close to home. Having said that, home is exactly where we have been since this time last week.

We have been isolating. Doing what it takes to make sure that we don’t pass on this virus that we thought we might or might not have.

“We are sick of COVID-19!” It sounds like the mantra of this community, this country, and possibly the world. And I can’t say there’s any surprise in that.

This is the fourth time we have been bulldozed by this potentially deadly virus. This is the second December holiday that has been sorely impacted by this maddening illness. This is the third time I have had one of those irritating things stuck up my nose in a COVID-19 test. Others have had it done more often. And it’s the umpteenth time my precious plans have been thrown asunder because of this dreaded lurgy. I would so like to shout out that it’s enough, only I dare not do that.

You see, as much as I’m sick and tired of COVID-19, the virus seems to be getting smarter about spreading itself around those I care about. In that group are those who are more vulnerable.

The truth is, I would hate to know that I made anyone sick, especially if they got particularly ill or found themselves in a difficult situation because of me.

I have no desire to play G-d. I have to consider other people – we all do.

This weekend, my family and I were invited to go to a barmitzvah of a dear boy who is my son’s best friend. It was an event we had been looking forward to for ages. It was going to be a barmitzvah party to remember.

The young man was having a joint barmitzvah with his first cousin, whose birthday was just days apart from his.

The reason they were joining forces was because they have close family who live around the world and they wanted them to share in their simcha.

So, as you can imagine, first, the overseas family weren’t able to come. Then, the party was postponed, but the boys were still going to go ahead with reading their haftorah.

Only, the last straw was that our rabbi got COVID-19, and that put paid to the barmitzvah at this point.

These friends have been so gracious in accepting the inevitable, as were the young, soon-to-be barmitzvah boys. They learnt a very important lesson that you have to roll with the punches and deal with things not happening the way you want them to.

But though the disappointment was inevitable, the mother of my son’s best friend said, “We want this to be a special day, not a day that will be remembered for making people sick.”

I get that. I guess that was a similar reason for the rabbi of our shul making the decision to shut the shul down until the spike passes.

I know there’s absolutely nothing illegal in having protocol-compliant events. There are still large barmitzvahs, weddings, and other end-of-year functions happening. They may well be run totally according to government protocols, but that doesn’t mean they won’t land up spreading this variant. Who knows? Nobody does, that’s the point.

I cannot say to anyone, “Don’t have your event.” It’s not up to me and, more than that, I understand the need to have some fun. I understand the need to let my hair down. I understand the frustration of living so long under the threat of this dreaded coronavirus.

The idea of dancing at a party or having just plain fun is so enticing.

It’s such a difficult decision to make – to have or not to have an event. It’s difficult to decide to stay home from a restaurant because this variant is so contagious.

We planned a lovely outdoor end-of-year lunch, which we cancelled under advisement. I was so grumpy about it as I really wanted to spend time with my co-workers and our board. But, we did the right thing, albeit the unpopular and irritating thing.

I believe many of us are in a position where we want to do the right thing, but it’s becoming more and more difficult because we are so gatvol of living with this constantly mutating virus.

There are many who are questioning whether they should go on holiday, and some have already cancelled.

I’m not one of them. I believe I can safely have a beautiful holiday without putting myself or others under threat of illness. It isn’t that difficult to stay within your little bubble and not get up close and personal with others. Spend time on the beach, but keep your distance. Spend lots of quality time outdoors. Fly a kite. Take a long walk in the fresh air. Get a tan. Relax. Take a deep breath. Enjoy some quiet time with a good book.

Do those things that you don’t have time to do during the year but don’t involve being in close proximity to people without masks. You know the drill. We can all do it, it just takes being conscious and thinking before doing.

I know it’s frustrating to have to think constantly of ways of having fun that don’t involve being surrounded by people. I get it, but the time will come when this dreaded coronavirus is nothing more than the flu.

From all accounts, this strain of COVID-19 is much more contagious than the ones we have seen before, but it doesn’t seem to be making most people very ill. This is a very, very good sign. It appears to signal just what we are hoping for. Exactly when that will be, I can’t say. But it will happen.

So, for now, let’s just go with the flow. Do things consciously. And, most importantly, stay healthy and have a wonderful, relaxing, and peaceful holiday!

We won’t be publishing over the holiday period, but we’ll be back on 13 January 2022.

Shabbat shalom!

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