Keeping our Corona Cool

Loneliness. Isolation. Fear. Anxiety. Death. This pandemic has turned the world upside down. It seems endless. People are miserable, delving deep into destructive feelings of despair. This period has certainly proven challenging. For some, it has been depressingly difficult. However, I think a lot of good has emerged from this pandemic, and I have chosen to focus on the positive. I am not in any way belittling the complications or the problems. The struggle is real. But I choose to see light. These are my personal feelings. I am sure that you can come up with your own creative list of how you are keeping cool during Corona times and I hope that when you are ready, you share too. In the meantime, enjoy mine.

C Connection

Paradoxically, we have become closer as a community despite the distance. Modern innovative communication technologies have facilitated connection and have been crucial to people’s health during these times. Torah study, general courses, virtual sukka hops, and other important accessible content are a cure for many people’s feeling of loss. Meeting people and showing care for others has been possible even though we are far away. Though learning in classes over zoom, attending simchas through the computer, and holding meetings over video chat are certainly not comparable to doing any of those things in person, these are changes that are positive and have clearly impacted society as a whole. Many people have been comforted by the overall collective cybernetic gatherings when they otherwise would feel a sense of loneliness and despair. We have found creative ways of showing concern for others in this time of uncertainty. The gaping chasms have been made narrower by phone calls, visits, and good deeds. We are concentrating on positive core values and succeeding in overcoming complications. We are becoming more unified. We are in constant contact, taking charge, and trying to control our circumstances. We should celebrate our sense of cooperation, collaboration, and commitment during these times, continue to conquer our fears, and work together to climb higher.

O Openness

Our situation has given us a sense of obligation and purpose that we forgot we needed. We are observing transformation and trying not to lose sight of the objective. This tumultuous period has provided us with out-of-the-box ideas that would even be welcome during “normal” times, but would probably have never emerged were it not for the pandemic. We are witnessing changes in overseas travel. We have become expert online shoppers, perfecting our orders, and organizing for ourselves the things truly vital to our existence. Corona has allowed us to be more open to hearing those around us, to reach out to others in need, and amend our sense of time and family. We are more open-minded and open-hearted. We are spending more time at home and doing things that are truly important to us. We are taking on projects that we always wanted to accomplish but never had the time to complete. We have come to cherish our outings and occasional walks outside. We have learned to get back to the basics, operate out of hope and idealism, and appreciate the minimum. Overall, we are on the road to a better beginning.

R Renewal

Say goodbye to life as you remember it. This pandemic has caused a major renovation, a total reconstruction of our lives and restructuring of our time. It has allowed us to re-establish our priorities and enabled us a certain readiness to tackle the unknown. We have learned to roll with the punches, tap into underused resources, and restrain ourselves when necessary. We have gained newfound respect for boundaries, regard for personal space, and recognition that we ourselves are but a tiny part of a much bigger whole. It will take time for us to rebuild properly, but let’s not jump back into routine too quickly. Though some long for the return to the “regular”, we would be remiss were we not to gain from our experiences and realize the mistakes we made in the past so as not to repeat them. We have been given a chance to press that “Restart” button. Renewal and repair are possible if we review what we have accomplished, rethink our responsibilities, and reevaluate our roles. We are on the brink of reform. This revolution is already underway. Let’s restore faith in the future, reassess our definition of routine, and embrace our new reality.

O Opportunity

Our recent experiences have offered us new opportunities and opened our eyes to a new outlook on life. We are rising to the occasion, embracing our circumstances, and generating outstandingly creative options for optimal performance. Medical professionals are working on the front lines to save lives and many community leaders are working overtime to help others, unify, and build. Among other things, my husband finds time in his schedule to send out written drashot every Shabbat, deliver flowers to members of our shul, visit older people who are alone, prepare shiurim to be available online, set up zoom meetings for singles, and record a one-minute WhatsApp halacha (called Halacha B’daka) every morning. He has this especially cheerful “Boker tov!” that people look forward to hearing when turning it on. I send out original parsha quizzes every week. This pandemic has prompted original thinking and hopefully the assurance that keeping an ongoing optimistic attitude today provides an opening towards a brighter tomorrow.

N Novelty

Necessity is the mother of invention. It also produces prayer. There are seedlings of noticeable passion towards a greatly needed belief in a Higher Power. The realization that nothing is truly in our control and that everything is in God’s hands brings forth a newfound faith that is humbling. Now that we are mostly homebound, more family time has been established. We are actively educating our kids like never before. Meals with our nuclear families are cherished and the lost art of neighborliness has been restored. We are learning to trust our natural inclinations. We have a need to nurture our children, keep them near, and nestle together in our homes. Noble acts of kindness are on the rise and numerous notable changes have materialized in society. Nationwide economic troubles and employment difficulties are distressing, but we must not lose hope. We must keep looking forward and be prepared for what comes next. Our new narrative, with masks and minimalization, will hopefully navigate us through this pandemic towards a novel normalcy, one that is truly noteworthy.

A Appreciation

We are learning to appreciate all the good that we have. More “attitude of gratitude” lists are being written every day. We are thankful for the abundance of good we have been awarded, the advantages we have over previous time-periods, and for all that we can accomplish under the circumstances. We have witnessed amazing altruistic acts right before our eyes. We have come to acknowledge that some things are better changed, such as PTC meetings on zoom or pre-planned appointments to avoid long lines or wasted time. We have learned to assess our situation and see the good accumulate. We have achieved a vast amount. It is true that alcogel is drying our hands and masks can make us feel like there is no air to breathe. But we have learned to adapt. Life is an adventure. Though there are additional goals yet to attain and difficult questions that await us as we advance, we must admire ourselves and applaud those around us for the assistance we have provided for each other, the affection we have shown for others, and our attention to detail that has allowed us to accomplish this much thus far. May we see only good always. Amen.

About the Author
Atira Ote is a passionate rabbi's wife, mother of five, artist and translator currently living in Jerusalem. She has translated a few volumes of Peninei Halachah by Rav Eliezer Melamed and has put out a CD of original Jewish songs, called "Vayhi Or", with her husband. Take a look at her artwork: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-by-Atira/837415652951429 or listen to their music: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/yosselaoteandatiraote
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