This kind of thing happens once every hundred years. That’s what a local health expert recently declared on Israel Radio. Perhaps she stated the obvious, yet many of us, myself included, are only beginning to fully register the enormity of the situation. Now that the pandemic is out of control in Israel, we have no choice but to confront the potential devastation of our circumstances and it is truly frightening.
Most of us do not wish to lose our nearest and dearest or to depart this earth ourselves. As revealed by Professor Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute, it takes up to only two weeks from contracting the coronavirus for 20% of the critically ill to die from it.
Israeli citizens have been placed under a second lockdown and, this time around, many seem submerged in an ongoing sense of dread. The sensation is like waiting for a bomb to fall in extreme slow motion. A small voice inside occasionally raises the scariest questions – when will I or someone I love contract the disease and fall prey to its worst symptoms? How will I continue to live when someone close to me is no longer here? Will I be able to bear the hole that they leave behind?
According to epidemiological experts, men are more vulnerable to the virus than women. There are many theories as to why this might be, but no certain hypotheses. Our men are more at risk, like soldiers in a war.
The bottom line is that while the country is almost paralyzed, laying in wait for destinies to be determined, our human vulnerability is pushed to the fore.
After we have stood on the ledge of life for many months, and once the virus is finally tamed, I cannot help but wonder whether this experience will trigger change or will we quickly return to our automatic ways?
My sincerest hope is that this distressing period will serve some good purpose, a kind of rebirth. For the least we can do to honor the many people who have died and will die of the virus is to reevaluate all the structures, systems and behaviors that we lived with until COVID-19. Let us not remain incapacitated after the virus is no longer a danger, but rather renew all that we have taken for granted to initiate real change. There will be much collaborative work required to rebuild Israel’s shattered economy, but even more effort will be needed to restore our broken spirits and to instill a sense of true value in our society.