Poetry for the Pandemic

Crowd-sourced poetry for the pandemic

On a recent Sunday morning, I offered a seminar on “Gratitude During Tough Times” via Zoom to Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid in Milwaukee, WI. At one point, I asked people to respond to the prompt: “What are you grateful for from last night, what are you grateful for from this morning, and, as you look ahead, what are you grateful for in relation to this afternoon?” I posed this question after screening a spectacular short film on gratitude and reviewing the Modim prayer, which thanks God for the “Divine wonders and goodness that are with us evening, morning, and noon.”

The following lines were all typed into the chat by participants, but no triplet came from a single author. I joined ideas and phrasings that seemed to complement one another, to create a poem. What follows represents the wisdom of a crowd – and the gratitude of a community.

I am deeply grateful to the entire community and in particular to Deborah Intravaia, who was my liaison and gracious host – Rabbi Debra Orenstein

Daily Wonders During the Pandemic

A call from my son yesterday

A call from Israel from my daughter today

A planned walk in the sunshine


Last evening, putting my kids to bed

This morning, being able to go for a walk

Talking to my Rabbi later on


Talking to my children – last night and later today

Food on the table

Connecting with friends, despite distance


Walking with family

On a beautiful day

While social distancing


Sights of northern Wisconsin with my family

Beautiful music with beautiful voices

FaceTime with a 2-month grandson


Tears in my eyes

About the Author
Debra Orenstein, rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel in Emerson, NJ, is an acclaimed teacher, author, and scholar-in-residence. She is editor of Lifecycles 1:Jewish Women on Life Passages and Personal Milestones and Lifecycles 2: Jewish Women on Biblical Themes in Contemporary Life (Jewish Lights). A seventh generation rabbi, she was in the first rabbinical class at The Jewish Theological Seminary to include women. She earned a Certificate in Positive Psychology and teaches online. Visit to learn more.
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