Monday, April 13, 2020

Life Under Coronavirus: Weeks 2-4

Much has happened. We have transitioned to life under coronavirus, our new normal. At this point, we know how to navigate Zoom classes and my daughter's asynchronous lessons (provided via a Google Site her school put together). We continue to shelter in place, and we have come up with a list of ways to make this more enjoyable. We have ordered takeout from a number of kosher restaurants in order to keep them in business (since dining in is forbidden). My children have iced and decorated sugar cookies from Adina's Designer Cookies, baked a cake (with homemade frosting), painted glass bowls, colored with Expo markers on dry erase boards, played in the backyard and have built stunning MagnaTile castles. (We bought several more packs of MagnaTiles).

When it comes to Pesach, my husband and I did our best to make the Haredi rabbanim issue a statement forbidding public gatherings for the burning of chametz, having Pesach Sedarim where people who were not immediate family members who lived in that home were invited and the like. I emailed every single Haredi newspaper and magazine I could think of and my husband called all of his connections. BMG and Lakewood responded appropriately, for which we were grateful. A forged statement came out claiming to be from various Hasidic rabbis in Boro Park- but I think the forger may have saved lives.

I was impressed with the discussions around mental health during a time of coronavirus, particularly because of the three day Yom Tov that was going to occur. Marc Fein helped create a document that pulled together various rabbis' views and responses on this issue, and the RCA issued a response explaining all the ways in which it was important that people call or use technology on Yom Tov if they felt their mental health was threatened. This was an important and exciting breakthrough for our rabbinate (the Orthodox rabbinate in particular).

It is now Chol Hamoed and a month since I have been anywhere that wasn't my backyard or the few blocks near my house. I feel cooped up and frustrated. There are only so many TV shows one can watch and books one can read. I also prefer teaching, even online teaching, to being at home on break. It seems unlikely that sheltering in place will end anytime soon- it is very possible virtual school will be the order of the day for the rest of the year. It is unclear whether summer camps will open. I recognize that others have it much worse than I do, but that doesn't mean my everyday, humdrum existence - cooking meals, washing dishes, doing laundry, watching kids, all while remaining at home without any ability to interact face-to-face with others- is easy.