Jamie Geller
Chief Media and Marketing Officer, Aish Global

Lessons I learned this summer from COVID

Corona Kotel Selfie Source: Jamie Geller

On the dawn of a new school year, with the world in the throes of a pandemic and all that was once absolute subject to change on a whim, I look back at the summer, hoping to both learn and share the lessons I’ve learned…


I know March is not officially summer but for all intents and purposes this is when our summer “staycation” began.  On Thursday, March 12 a large severe cyclone which had formed over the Nile delta started moving northeast over the Middle East. Trees uprooted, apartment buildings swayed, winds howled, power lines toppled and birds were thrashing and crashing into car windshields in apocalyptic fashion.  That night as countrywide school closures went into effect in fear of the impending pandemic, we hunkered down witnessing the ripple effects of the cyclone with one eye open, wondering if the world was coming to an end. Six months later, the kids are still home and that question still lingers… I have learned, nothing (ever) stays the same. 


Between the prophetic “no one from Israel shall leave their home” (Shemos/Exodus 12:22) nationwide lockdown, closure of the skies and reports from Asian and European countries televising scenes we have only seen play out in theatrical releases, my kids inquired about our Chol Hamoed plans.  I giggled feeling no need to commit to any activities since Moshiach was coming Passover Eve.  While we are still waiting… I have learned what it means to actively yearn for and anticipate the coming of Moshiach every, single, day. 


April was filled with Cooking in Quarantine Facebook Lives (370,000+ views!), Passover Seder for 2 Menus, and free social media performances from the biggest stars — seemingly everyone used their talents to lift the spirits of those in isolation.  But the month of May made everything official.  With no hope of life returning to “normal” anytime soon everyone adapted, everyone pivoted and everyone innovated.  With my planned East Coast Speaking Tour for Jewish National Fund indefinitely postponed my appearances moved to zoom (just like my kids’ school). I learned, there are so many ways to connect, console and bring joy.  While I have (perhaps, surprisingly) personally struggled with the spiritual effects of technology and social media, I finally truly came to peace with it, embracing it as a gift for its ability to connect us with one another on a soul level.  Cooking, commiserating, comforting, consoling, and celebrating together while seeing into one another’s eyes, sharing a virtual embrace, and returning a smile are the priceless and treasured gifts of this time in our history.


As the new normal settled in along with cabin fever it soon became clear the government and health ministry guidelines, rules and regs became contradictory, inconsistent and downright confusing.  As “rule followers” it was hard to listen to the letter of the law when every day we hit a new letter of the alphabet.  We tried to keep the guiding principles of masks, social distancing, and vigilant hand-washing while I learned that sometimes we have to bend the rules, specifically our own house rules, to help keep the sanity and social health of the family intact.    


I’m no psychologist but I imagine that when going through a trauma there is some cycling of emotions such as shock, fear, depression, numbness, sadness, acceptance and eventual happiness once again.  July, for me is when the struggle and cycle of emotions started to settle.  After a very public and tearful open letter I finally stopped my on and off crying.  I learned that tears help cleanse and alleviate stress, that struggle is good for the soul and that if we make it through, we always come out on the other side so so so much more resilient. 


With no end in sight, I have zoom demos booked for Rosh Hashanah through Chanukah including a handful of virtual events in May.  We are planning a Corona Bar Mitzvah (which really requires no planning at all) and have relaxed into our fears and apprehensions.  The kids are scheduled to go back to school for the first time in 5 months but not before enjoying our annual Jerusalem “pilgrimage”/staycation in the holiest city in the world.  As I go to visit the Kotel today… I have learned that prayer is more important than ever. I have learned that salvation based on faith in man, a vaccine, and the like are foolish pursuits.  I have learned that it is the ONE and ONLY G-D above who can save the world.  In the meantime, I will keep pushing and keep zooming and keep connecting to each and every one of you through food and joy, through faith and family, through our customs and our culture and share life together with you. 

About the Author
Jamie Geller is the Chief Media & Marketing Officer at Aish Global and CEO of Kosher Network International. Having successfully built a portfolio of Jewish food and lifestyle digital media brands with an audience of millions and over 1 billion video views, she recently joined the Aish Global executive team to spearhead a digital media strategy featuring entertainment, edutainment, and educational experiences to make Jewish wisdom more accessible and engaging for people across the globe. While redefining digital media success in the Jewish world, she is also busy being a mother of six and seven-time bestselling author who appears regularly on the Today Show and daytime talk show circuit and has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo, among other media outlets.
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