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Not easy being a Jew in a pandemic



I suspect that Debs has me on speed dial. As her one-phone-call-away COVID-19 reassurance go-to person, I suspect I’m just one in a series of contacts available to her and who she turns to when her anxiety gets the better of her.

Last evening at about 20:30 was her last call, having found out that her husband’s business associate had just tested positive, she needed to be talked off the ledge. She was understandably worried (read; hysterical) and flipping through the pages of the proverbial Yellow Pages in search of a 24-hour testing station, preferably one where they didn’t know them by name and wouldn’t realise that their last test had been a few days prior.

The fact that her husband hadn’t actually seen the guy for a few weeks only played a minor part in calming her down, but did make me worry about her general level of anxiety. When eventually things settled, I asked why she was so worried? Her response was clear.

“Howie, my boy,” she said confidently, albeit patronisingly, “It’s really not easy being a Jew in a pandemic.” Debs isn’t wrong. Whereas it might not be easy to be anyone in a pandemic, being a Jew is no joke either. So much so, that it should be considered a comorbidity.

It’s a well-known medical phenomenon that Jewish males add at least one new chronic medication for each decade. What starts with Crestor for high cholesterol in his late twenties, quickly leads to Nexium, to some sort of blood pressure meds, and a little something like Puricos for uric acid before it develops, G-d forbid, into gout.

By the time he has reached his seventies, if the stress hasn’t managed to get the better of him, he’s on at least a handful and a half of various items, without which he wouldn’t last even a minute beyond breakfast (assuming he isn’t intermittent fasting for his prediabetes).

Jews also have a finely tuned sense of danger, which sets off the anxiety alarm when there’s a chance that someone or something is a potential threat. Generations of persecution, of antisemitism, and of the need to flee country after country with bobba’s soup ladle as carry-on luggage has chiselled an early warning system into our consciousness. Add reducing numbers, interbreeding, and poor habits to the mix and it should hardly be a surprise that a pandemic pushed us right over the edge. It would be more of a surprise if it hadn’t.

The reaction of thrice vaccinated, double masked, and oft PCR-ed Debs is one that I fully relate to. It might not be the outwardly calm and contained image that I try to project, but it’s nevertheless one that I fully relate to.

Because no matter how much we might roll our eyes at those who appear to be at their wits end, there’s a small part of all of us who at this very moment are flipping frantically through the proverbial Yellow Pages in search of a testing station that we can go to which won’t greet us by name.

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  1. Robert Zipper

    Dec 9, 2021 at 10:03 am

    Very funny. 😂😂😂

  2. Wendy Kaplan Lewis

    Dec 9, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    Love love love
    Delightful article

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