The Ultimate Reset or Refresh Button: Simhat Torah

picture taken by me, Rabbi Claire Ginsburg Goldstein, without flash (on purpose)

In a darkening world of Covid 2020, one wonders when will we see the light once again? How long will it take for some drug company to produce a safe enough vaccine that will keep our population healthy and strong? Will it be Moderna after all or will it be Pfizer? Is it a race or is it a path towards working together in cooperation to bring about global harmony and a road towards peace? Only time will tell, or will it?

I have been home from work since March 13th this year. Initially, I missed the scheduled and structured day. I missed the rush in the early morning hours, to get out of the house “on time”, (not even sure what that means anymore). I missed that last gulp of my morning coffee. I missed worrying if I left enough gas in the car to get me to work. I missed worrying if I would have to defrost my car windows that morning or all I would need would be a quick wipe down with a left over napkin from Panera or Dunkin’ Donuts. I missed so much, or so I thought.

Then Larry was sent home from work. His business shut down for three months (but we didn’t know that immediately). Now it was the two of us and the dog to fill up the hours of the unknown. We reset our day to plan our dog walks around the blocks, once, twice, three times and sometimes even four times a day.  We reset ourselves to set up a daily ritual of reading Gd’s holy works, his Tanakh, the Jewish Bible. We reset ourselves to read daily Psalms, one to honor each member of our immediate, nuclear family. We reset ourselves to find stores that would allow us in to shop with their set Senior shopping hours. We reset to brace ourselves for shortages in the stores. There was not enough distilled water, toilet paper, paper towels, hand and bath soap, bleach, cleaning agents, hand wipes, baby wipes, 70% strength hand sanitizer, effective masks, Lysol products, (in general), alcohol and alcohol wipes, and healthy food choices on a regular and consistent basis. We played one guessing a game after another, not knowing how to judge what products would be available and when. Upon asking the store managers, when to expect their next shipment of what items we would need in the near future, their answer was consistently, “Whatever the warehouses choose to send us. Our requests continue to go unfilled.”  Therefore, we had to reset our shopping schedule.  We became semi hoarders and we hadn’t planned on changing our ways. ( I still have 6 bottles of distilled water sitting here from March and the stores have cut their prices on bottled water to half at this point. They are practically giving the water away. That is just one example. I can also talk about the amount of toilet paper still sitting here. At last count this past week, we had over 30 rolls.  That makes me chuckle as well.)

There have been so many resets and refresh circumstances. The Shabbat guests limit for our Shabbat meals have been reset to one couple at a time, usually Shira and Ivan. Our holiday guests have been curtailed to one or two people at a time as well. Our mask wearing has taken on a fashion statement quality. What color mask will I wear with which outfit? How long will I wear the mask until I begin to feel lightheaded? I wear the mask as long as I can hold out. What hand soaps have I purchased over the months to add fragrance besides up the  health and hygiene standards in our bathroom? How much more often am I cleaning the counter surfaces, the sinks, sponges, and sink mats? How many more times am I washing and rewashing our dishes?  All of these issues, plus more, have become part and parcel of our reset and refresh mentality.

Rabbi Claire during brand new Sukkah Sukkot Covid 2020 Rabbi Claire during Sukkot SLC 2016, taken by my camera so that I was able to hold up the Arba Minim.Rabbi Claire during home Sukkot 2017

Pictures taken with my camera to post how Sukkot has been celebrated by me and my family over the recent years.

I do imagine that Sukkot darkness will begin to disperse as we advance our knowledge and understanding of this Covid pandemic.

I would like to believe that this Sukkot of Covid 2020 will show us a way to reset and refresh our way of seeing our path into a lit and brighter future.

Gd is in the House. Just hold up the lulav and etrog in the light and have someone stand across from you. As you open up the lulav in your right hand and place a bit of space between the etrog, held in your left hand, and the lulav, you will see the letters of Gd’s name; yood, hey, vav, hey, form before your very eyes.

If at any moment, you don’t feel Gd close by, think teddy bear hugs or the hugs that we used to share among family and friends pre Covid. We need to think that hugging will return one day soon.  It will brighten up your day to remember that sense of happiness and joy, and reset your emotions to rethink positive and feel thankful once again.

My we be blessed to be able to reset and refresh our thinking and feelings into being thankful that we are still here to do Gd’s Holy work and be the best that we can be.

Happy resetting and refreshing! (On Simhat Torah, the ultimate reset day and refresh day.)

Chag Sameach! Looking forward to hugging and dancing with that Torah on Simhat Torah 2020 from a distance! ( or imagining that I am).

Rabbi Claire Ginsburg Goldstein, teddy bear rabbi

Sukkot Covid 2020

About the Author
Rabbi Claire conceived of the concept Bears from Bergenfield upon a routine check of the Israeli staff at camp SLC August of 2001. She realized that the world needed to wake up and become aware of the suffering the Israelis were enduring as the Palestinians continued their intifada against them. After 18 years and 195,000 teddy bears amassed and redistributed, Rabbi Claire is searching for more public platforms to proliferate and advance her message, that Jewish lives matter, especially with a teddy bear. Rabbi Claire lives in Bergen County with her husband of 38 years, Larry, and their 4 children, Sam, Shira, Seth, and Sarah Rose, plus their incoming son-in-law Ivan. For further information of how to get involved with this endearing project, contact her at
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