I’m a lady of a certain age (81 if you really must know) and new technology for me is sort of like teaching the proverbial old dog new tricks. Any real dog lover, which I’ve always been, knows that it’s pretty much impossible to teach Major (Joe’s Biden’s dog, and the shared name of one of our own late-greats as well) to shake his paw for Shabbat Shalom once he has passed about age 2. So teaching me computer skills ranks high on that never gonna work list. After all these years, I’m still mainly incompetent.
But sometimes the need is so great that I’m forced to take a tutorial and work it out. These days, with the confining corona, are such times.
I remember when I worked as a real estate broker. Just about forever, we worked with huge notebooks (the old fashioned kind that you snapped open). That’s where we kept up with all the listings from our local multiple listing service. Every day we would have to go through that book and write price reductions, new listings, sales, and withdrawals. Believe me, it was tedious. And then, one bright and shiny day, our office manager called a meeting to introduce us to computers. We could actually not shlep around those big fat notebooks. And the computer would do all the work, with updates to the minute rather than only once a day. It would relieve us of hours of daily work and be more accurate as well as way more efficient.
I bet you think that news was greeted with cheers. Well, you are wrong. Every single person, including me, was just terrified of the newfangled device.
I had a secret weapon at home. My son was a computer whiz who had not yet left for college. He’s also a very patient type (usually). So, he taught me everything I needed to know at that time and it was incredible! Soon most everyone else in my office had seen the light. And it was good. But not to forget those diehards who continued to use their books for years after!
Fast forward to the present covid-19 crisis. You and I have all learned the latest computer miracle: Zoom. I don’t understand at all how Zoom works. I don’t even know how they make their money. I do know I’ve fallen in love. Many times over!
Just yesterday, for example, my friend Janet celebrated her 80th birthday. It was a virtual party and the guests were all Zoomers. Actually, had there been a real event, most of us would not have been there. Janet has had some special parties. Her 60th birthday gala was at a Tuscany lodge that her husband had rented for a surprise gathering. The surprise did work. And we, among her closest friends, had a memorable time in a tiny charming village that we would never have found on our own. I, for one, will never forget it!
But at age 80, all of us are a bit less adventurous than when we were kids of 60, and the pandemic would have made it impossible. Janet lives in Hod Hasharon, a tony suburb of Tel Aviv. Many of her friends live in the United States, mainly along the East Coast, but her daughter professes at a California University.
Her granddaughter is doing her IDF service at an air force base in the Galil and was allowed to make a cameo appearance. Other friends came from all over Israel. There was quite a crowd, a Zoom gang, if you will! Setting the time on a November Sunday was not very challenging. At noon on the East Coast, it was 9 a.m. in California and 7 p.m. in Israel, comfortable for all.Catering was similarly easy. None! So, one focus of the usual party was completely and simply eliminated.
No drunken drivers or crowded highways. No fancy outfits either. Pajamas would have been okay. And weather just didn’t factor in at all.
Since no one has very much to do in these day of hunkering, everyone was available and there was a large group of celebrants who enjoyed having a prime-time activity and rejoicing with a beloved friend. It was all Fauci-approved!
A few days earlier we had done a family Thanksgiving. Believe me, I’m not pushing for how we’ll celebrate next year — but let me say that I’ve got my Shoprite free kosher turkey in the basement freezer, so I’m ready!
We’ve done a Zoom family wedding that included all those who couldn’t be invited to the very restricted actual attendees, as well as Zoom High Holidays on our driveway, Torah and shofar included. It was actually thrilling to hear the shofarot being blasted throughout our neighborhood! And my husband Zooms his daily morning minyan.
And, mazal tov to all, we’ve done a Zoom L’Chaim in preparation for our granddaughter’s May wedding. We did meet the chatan’s family. They are absolutely delightful! Perhaps we even had more time to get acquainted since it wasn’t noisy or crowded and no food or drink makes for more time to focus on the tachlis of getting to know each other.
Without a doubt, Zoom has made pandemic-ing easier and more tolerable. I wonder if we’ll continue to visit and celebrate this way once we’re all vaccinated and returned to normalcy. Hopefully that’s something we’ll know very very soon!