How a Jewish Baby Boomer turned 70 during COVID19

I came into this world on 22 April 1950 which was also Yom Haatzmaut. My strongly Zionist parents gave me the middle name of Dina to celebrate Medinat Israel.

Yesterday was Earth Day, and also my birthday. Next Wednesday will be Yom Haatzmaut. My Israeli birthday.

70 is supposed to be the new 60, but the over 65s since the outbreak of COVID19 are now classified as ‘elderly’ !! So what does 70 mean?

The day began when my husband brought me an early morning cup of coffee in bed. “Would you like hand sanitizer with that?”

It has come as a shock to all my boomer friends for us to be labeled as ‘elderly’. We were the generation who protested against apartheid, many of us went to Israel as Volunteers after the 6 Day War (regrettably I was 10 months too young), we supported the US fight for civil rights, and an end to the Vietnam War. Our generation started the women’s liberation movement, and began chipping away at greater roles for women within Judaism.

We were ageless. If anything, some of us had planned to grow old dis-gracefully. Elderly, shmelderly. Not on the horizon. We have eagerly embraced ‘Advanced Style’ (which interestingly seems to predominantly feature Jewish women in the fashion shoots) and thus to continue to express ourselves timelessly and as individuals in our approach to fashion. But it has not all been self absorption. Many of us do voluntary work including working for Israel, helping those less fortunate, and working towards tikkun olam within the Jewish and wider communities.

But I digress. The clock rolled on, and the inevitable happened. Suddenly I was 70. I was showered with so much love, friendship and caring. Many of us have used this period of lockdown for self reflection, and to reconsider how we have been living our lives, carrying out or not carrying out enough mitzvot, and above all caring for others. I was the fortunate recipient of all this love, yesterday. Never have I felt this overwhelming sense of love to such an extent. I was humbled.

Friends became creative re how they could wish me. The day passed in a glow of never ending phone calls, Whats Apps, emails, texts, and snailmail cards. I opened cards and packages carefully, taking suitable practical precautions for an ‘elderly’ person during COVID19. “Pass the hand sanitizer and my gloves please!” I then received flowers and completely forgot to ‘glove up’ or do anything further. When thanking my friend, she said she hoped flowers would be OK under present circumstances, but she thought I would treat them like fruit and vegetables. Oops no!! How quickly one relapses into old habits. A quick dash to the “sanitizer bottle” once again!

We enjoyed a beautiful lunch and dinner at home which we cooked together. We didn’t have to struggle to hear each other in a noisy restaurant. It was intimate and very special. Very much togetherness. Way to go for the future.

At the end of the day when I reflected on Earth Day I thought about how gloriously clear and blue the sky had been, how we now have an opportunity to move forward together, embracing a greater respect for our environment. With one exception. At the end of the day there was one big black bag filled with packaging materials and wrapping paper!

On Wednesday it will be Yom Haatzmaut and I intend to celebrate all over again.

About the Author
Liane was born in South Africa and migrated to Australia in 1994. She is a retired Organisation Psychologist who has worked in private practice and teaching at university. She has done voluntary work within the Jewish community since her early 20s.
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