Peta Jones Pellach
Teacher and activist in Jerusalem

Life May Never Be the Same

I don’t have to tell anyone how awful the situation is.

Here, in Israel, we are comparatively lucky. So far, no one has died from the coronavirus and the spread has been contained to some extent.

We have wonderful medical professionals. Basic supplies are not going to run out. People are reasonably sensible, keeping social distance, and most are staying optimistic.

On a personal level, I am well and even have benefited from the time at home. There is someone else here with me, so I am not isolated from direct human contact. Through the use of the internet, I see my children and grandchildren daily – more than I did two weeks ago.

But, that does not mean things are alright. I am connected to the world.

People are sick and dying. That’s not just bad news; it is terrible.
People are scared, people are lonely.
People are losing their jobs and don’t know if they’ll ever recover.

The world’s economy may take years to stabilize.

There is an increase in domestic violence. In all situations of stress, this is the case. Now, there is nowhere for victims (mainly women and children) to go. There is no-one who will come to ease the tension and provide protection. Isolation is experienced two or three fold. We can expect fatalities.

Children are out of school. We have no idea what impact this will have on them in the short and long-terms.

We are not able to exercise they way we like, affecting our physical health, or see friends, affecting our mental health. Places of worship are closed, affecting our spiritual health.

Life may never be the same.

Yet, in all of this, there is much good news.

Acts of random kindness – People are helping those in quarantine or the elderly or families stuck without their basic needs.

A nation-wide service has begun where people can sign up to a WhatsApp group in their neighborhood. If they are in need of a delivery of any type, they just put in the request. Apparently, then, people fight to be the ones to collect and deliver the needed items! In small communities, where a number of people are in quarantine, teenagers are using their time off school and their bicycles to deliver them food and other requirements. People are phoning friends to whom they have not spoken in some time or making an effort to check on the neighbor they hardly know.

Quality family time – We have more time and more time with our immediate families. If we can put aside our financial worries, there is an advantage in having parents home from work and children home from school. In this crazy world, quality family time has been a casualty. Finally, something outside our control has restored this valuable commodity.

We are learning to adapt – My daughter is exercising by running up and down her stairs. She has never been fitter. My son has ordered all his groceries to be delivered to his door, even though he liked shopping and choosing his produce. Another daughter is with her children all day but has got into a routine of writing between 10 pm and 2 am. My grandchildren, in addition to discovering a world of on-line learning on topics they had never imagined, have had dance-classes in their living room, the teacher in her studio. Like many others, I am teaching on-line and having meeting on-line. (It has amazed me that our internet systems all seem to be coping with the overload.) We are discovering that we can adapt, at short notice.

The environment – What a gift to our planet! Road traffic has been minimized. Air-travel is almost at a standstill. Already, birds and animals are returning to habitats abandoned when humans appropriated the land for industrial use – industries that are currently suspended.

We are re-assessing our lives, reflecting on our values – We are finally seeing the world as one and have discovered that we really are sharing this planet – humans and wildlife. We are seeking deeper meaning and finding it.

Life may never be the same.

About the Author
A fifth generation Australian, Peta made Aliyah in 2010. She is Senior Fellow of the Kiverstein Institute, Director of Educational Activities for the Elijah Interfaith Institute, secretary of the Jerusalem Rainbow Group for Jewish-Christian Encounter and Dialogue, a co-founder of Praying Together in Jerusalem and a teacher of Torah and Jewish History. She has visited places as exotic as Indonesia and Iceland to participate in and teach inter-religious dialogue. She also broadcasts weekly on SBS radio (Australia) with the latest news from Israel. Her other passions are Scrabble and Israeli folk-dancing.
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