March 7th: What a difference a year can make

What a difference a year makes.  March 7th, 2020 was one of the last “normal” days of 2020. I ran an Israeli movie night at Moishe House Philadelphia and was enthusiastically making plans with the Children’s Hospital to drop off Mishloach Manot (Purim baskets) that Moishe House and Reshet Ramah community members would pack the next day. 

Within a month, four of my patients had died from COVID-19. Surgeries on the transplant unit where I worked as a Registered Nurse were halted and visitors were banned. Just before Passover, my unit was converted into a COVID-19 ICU. Between April and June, I took overtime shifts and wore the same surgical mask for over a month at a time. With little evidence and much confusion, my hospital announced that it was safe to “sanitize” our N95 masks with hydrogen peroxide for reuse; per physician orders, and with great hesitancy, I administered hydroxychloroquine to my patients. 

And here I am now, almost a year later, and despite all the tough times this year has brought I have equally as much to be thankful for: I started my doctoral degree, joined the JOFA board, received both doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and got engaged! 

On March 7, 2021, I’m taking the day off to celebrate by attending my fourth JOFA conference. I’m preparing to lead my lunchtime session on Jewish Women in Healthcare. Women make up the majority of healthcare workers in the United States and it’s been an unbelievable year filled with stress, tears, recovery and hope. My fiancé and I are especially looking forward to the session Kol Sasson v’Kol Simcha: Creating a Checklist for a Balanced Orthodox Wedding. Planning a wedding during a pandemic carries so many unknowns, but that hasn’t stopped us from working on how we will show kavod (honor) to all our friends. 

We questioned, as a board, whether we should hold the conference this year—some suggested that people might be too “zoomed out.” Others countered that people might need a pick-me-up after an unusual Purim and with a restrained Pesach looming on the horizon. Having been involved in the conference planning, I know that there will be opportunities for interaction and that the energy and excitement in the conference “room” will spill over into your room. I continue to see Zoom and other online platforms as a vital form of human connection during this time. In fact, with the help of Moishe House Without Walls, I’ll be hosting a conference debrief after-party with my friends… over Zoom!

The last year has been one of incredible highs and lows.  I want to re-frame March 7th so it is no longer when so much began to go wrong, but rather the day when I learned how to set things right.  Join me on this journey!

At the 10th International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy, we’ll be exploring obstacles and opportunities that this year has created as we move forward to build a vibrant and equitable Orthodox community. There will be sessions on women’s leadership, sexuality, intersectionality, political polarization and so much more. See here for the full lineup and to register. Please note the special rate for students/young professionals. For more info and group pricing contact dani@jofa.org.

About the Author
Liat Greenwood, BSN, RN is a JOFA board member. She currently lives in Cambridge, where she works as a registered nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital and is pursuing a Doctor of Nursing practice degree in nurse-midwifery.
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