The last time I was this excited about being older was when I could vote, apply for a driver’s license and drink alcohol legally, (not necessarily in that order). Last week, the only perk to being 50+ meant I was eligible to receive the vaccination.
My medical insurance app is in Hebrew so it takes longer to navigate. The app offered a choice of three locations based on my neighborhood. Of the three, the Arnona neighborhood was closest. Before my scheduled appointment, I consulted Israel’s Moovit app for bus lines and times. For those who know me well, my lack of any sense of direction measures rather high. The bus line recommended and the route confused me. I had visions of rushing up and down hilly streets, passing the same traffic circle and turning left instead of right (as is often the case). This was one time I was not looking to get lost.
Common sense took over and I ordered a monit. I love when dispatch tells me: “Five minutes,” and three seconds later the driver is honking his horn. My driver asked: “where to?” “Arnona,” I replied. “What street?” He said. Retrieving the address from my purse, I repeated the unpronounceable name. In my best Hebrew, the name came out more Russian sounding. “Bnvnishti,” I said with as much confidence as I could. “You mean Banbansihty,” my driver replied. “That is not in Arnona. You mean the Arena. “Ohhhhhh, ” I exhaled gratefully realizing Arnona and Arena without vowels look very similar in Hebrew! “You must be going to get your vaccine.” By now Shay and I were on first name terms.
Along the way, I learnt that Shay had already received his vaccine. “Today is the day that all teachers are going to be vaccinated,” he said proudly. As Shay, and I parted ways, he reminded me that it was Rosh Chodesh – the new month – Sh’vat (whose acronym in Hebrew means – there will be good news).
The ‘door man’ for lack of a better term requested I show him my text message as confirmation of my appointment. When he saw it, he said: “the time of your appointment doesn’t count,” producing a print out with a number on it, while pointing to a huge flat screen TV which displayed and announced the numbers. Thanking him, I made my way to the ‘waiting room.’ It consisted of people sitting two meters apart in the lobby entrance of the stadium.
My number was 732. “Great,” I groaned inwardly. “This is going to take a lot longer than I realized.” The number flashing on the screen was 670. It was the first time I was exposing myself to such a large ‘crowd’ since the the pandemic began. To my surprise everyone waited quietly and the number count was moving faster than a slot machine’s.
The screen directed me to cubicle 10 where I met Itai, a young EMT. He asked me a few routine questions. As he was preparing the injection, I was preparing myself mentally. Just before revealing my non-dominant bare arm, I asked him to wait so I could recite a prayer from the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 230:4* I recited it aloud. Itai responded: “Amen.” I said the words purposefully with all my heart. Yes Pfizer had been working diligently on creating a vaccine and yes, Bibi negotiated to receive a large supply, but everyone involved are messengers of G-d, doing His will. If the vaccine is meant to work on me, it is only because my Higher Power makes it so.
Back in the ‘waiting room’ for the required 15 minutes, I took out a book of Psalms from my purse. I belong to a WhatsApp group where we say what is called ‘rolling Tehillim.’ In essence, you check what Psalm was recited last and punch in the next number and say it. Psalm 107 was the next chronological one. I smiled as I recited the opening words: “Give thanks to G-d, for He is good, for his kindness endures forever!” Coincidentally this Psalm is the basis of the thanksgiving blessing said aloud in the presence of 10 men. The blessing can be said for many reasons, one of which is being cured from a serious illness.
This pandemic continues to be difficult for everyone on many different levels and I wouldn’t fault you for thinking differently, but in that moment, I could feel G-d’s love and support, sending me a direct message moments after taking the vaccine.
As I exited the Arena and inhaled the crisp outside air (as much as I could with a mask), the first thing I laid eyes on was a vision that could easily be a scene from Star Wars, (not that I have seen Star Wars I, II or III). Three wise men were walking in exact unison past me. Each of them attired the same – long flowing black robes with a white robe-like belt. Not sure of their exact religion, but suffice to say it certainly gave credence to the sci-fi reality I had just experienced.
Picture it – I leave my house in a mask, arrive at a huge stadium where everyone is also wearing masks and voluntary go and get an injection sitting in isolation, identifying myself only through an electronic device. Is there anything normal about that scenario?
On the bus home, I looked at Shay’s business card. It wasn’t your usual monit business card that are very loud by nature. Shay’s card was subtle. A small blue font with lots of white space in between. Below Shay’s name and number, was a short tag line in Hebrew followed by the English, translating to: “Transport to all destinations.”
Thank you Shay for transporting me to my sci-fi experience. Thank you Itai for your confidence and expertise. Thank you to the three wise men for giving me a moment of laughter and thank you G-d for keeping it real.
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- The Prayer I said just before receiving the vaccine: “May it be your will Hashem our G-d that this undertaking should be a cure, for You are a generous healer. Blessed is the healer of those who are ill.”
(credit, Ann Diament Koffsky on LinkedIn)