Judith Hollander

Psalms in the time of covid–final comments

Consider this post as an addendum to my previous post where I discussed my study of the class: The Ending.

Last Psalms Class: September 30, 2021

Rabbi Kleinbaum final words:
“It is hard to end things and especially to end these 18 months of studying. These months will never be repeated exactly like this but there will be new things. And we have to be open to what those new things are. This class has been like a little “teva” (ark) carrying us through. I believe that our studying psalms together has strengthened the good in the world and the holiness for us in our individual worlds and in Heaven too.”

Final Comments by Participants
“What we learned in the psalms is reinforced in the prayers and the thread of it is so strong and so deep that is this consistency is amazing. And it hasn’t been knocked down by what goes on in the world or family life For so long. I get a modicum of hope.” **

“I was raised observant. Learning to look at the psalms intellectually not just as prayer has been broadening.” **

“I said many times how important this class was to me. And I said I couldn’t write but I did and I hope to continue.” **

“Heartbroken that this class is over. It has meant so much to me.” **

“I understand the power of the psalms now.” **

“Psalms class has made me a better Jew and a better human being. It’s the greatest gift but also this community is a gift and I hope we stick together.” **

“When I started the class, I had two favorite psalms, 23 and 91, and now I have 28. I am grateful and it has opened a gate for me.” **

Psalm 1 Drawing by Kenneth KarpelKen Karpel, a student in the Psalms class, got Covid early on in March 2020. Ken’s drawing and words captured the essence of the Psalms class. His tree visually represented the connections that so many participants talked about when describing their experiences in the class.

“…And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water,
That bears its fruit in its season…
…and its leaf does not wither…

“I drew this leafless tree in April last year when I was ill with Covid.
The image was inspired by the confluence of several sources: Psalm 1; other Psalm class offerings expressing the notion of rootedness; Marge Piercy’s poem, The Seven of Pentacles; and my knowledge of trees.

“Looking at it now, I see my prayer for healing, absent any visible evidence.

“In Marge Piercy’s words:
‘…Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground. You cannot tell always by looking at what is happening. More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet…’

My Covid Psalm
Psalm 6 prompted by Gratitude by a Hypochondriac with
                      Eastern European Jewish Roots

It’s one of those days: a cough, a sneeze, fatigue

But how could it be? I have been so careful sort of

Why is this happening?

What did I do wrong?

I rubbed my eyes; I touched the envelope?

And my face?

Was it the Friday Free Donut at the donut shop?

Or the bag of groceries at my door?

Or not letting the all-purpose cleaner dry before I wiped off the counter?

What did I do wrong?

Nausea, my stomach is not right, is that a symptom?

A symptom of the new “C” word

Stop. Stop the self-pity

Am I the only one? Am I nuts?

Is this part of the “situation” of me?

My anguish takes over

14 days till I know if it is real or just me

Up and at ‘em, I say

Move, says I


Push away the disturbing thoughts

Get a grip

What should I wear?

Blouse with a bra or

T-shirt and a baggy shirt, no bra?

Socks,? yes socks

Shoes? Are the downstairs neighbors home?

As I struggle with these important decisions

The demons drop away

The fatigue diminishes

I am hungry, my stomach is fine

But I still take a cough drop

I log on

The comfort of simple things envelops me

The relief of getting online

Work to do; food to eat; freedom to quarantine.

I could take a nap

Am I blessed or am I lucky?

I know not

But for sure I am grateful


About the Author
I am an ordained Kohenet from the Hebrew Priestess Institue and a practicing registered nurse. I am an active member of Congregation Beit Simcha Torah in NYC, a published poet and student of all things Jewish.