May 26, 2024
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May 26, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It was not that long ago that most of us were living in a fog. Entering some major stores meant standing on line until the proper number of people could be allowed in at a time. Offices were closed (some still are), Zoom was a word that many of us became very familiar with and social distancing was part of our everyday vernacular.

I remember the first time that I went to Costco after being at home for many months and waited patiently for my turn to enter. Everyone was skittish about standing close to each other and then out of the blue appeared a man in the fruit and vegetable department opening several boxes of tomatoes and moving the individual fruit around so that he could have the perfect unblemished choice in his box. So much for social distancing and touching.

Reluctantly, in some cases after the prodding of many rabbonim, participants in outdoor minyanim are returning to shul (not everyone eagerly). Special needs programs such as Yachad and Friendship Circle did everything in their power to stay in touch with their participants and now are preparing for an exciting “normal” new season.

The one discussion that took place among many and that I wondered about was what would smachot be like in the future? Did people realize that one could get married with only 50 to 100 people present at the chuppah and reception and still be married and happy? Did a bar mitzvah really need to have 350 people present in order for it to be a success?

I remember well our grandson Eyal’s bar mitzvah, which took place in our children’s backyard. Present were 11 men and four women. In the afternoon, groups of 20 socially distanced friends were invited at different times to share their good wishes with refreshments all packaged individually. His grandparents from Queens reluctantly did not attend. Believe it or not it was a great celebration of him entering this new phase of his life.

As well, we celebrated a family wedding in which the maximum number of guests decreed by the state of New Jersey was 150. Prior to that, the state’s mandate was for weddings to take place with 25 or 50 guests with the idea that the most important concern was that the chatan and kallah could become united as they so desired. Ezra and Shoshana Hagler managed to get married with a limit of 150 people at their wedding and they enjoyed the company of those nearest and dearest. We danced with hula hoops between us. Yes, we did it and no one is any the worse for it.

There were many discussions between friends and family about whether or not the pattern of inviting total strangers to a simcha, with the idea that it was necessary to invite the person who sat three rows in front of the baal simcha in shul, would ever really happen again. Was everyone learning a lesson that it was possible to make a simcha, celebrate with those nearest and dearest, and not have to mortgage their homes in order to afford what others expect of us? Frequent comments were heard of the beauty of the intimacy of a small wedding and then—poof—it seems to have disappeared.

It seems to me from what I have been observing that things are slowly returning to whatever normal was. Reluctant vibes are coming from those invited to a simcha in Lakewood or, even worse, at the Sands in Atlantic Beach. The distances and the traffic are once again viewed as major hassles. I often wonder who is being forced to go anywhere. One does have the option of saying no and for at least one-and-a-half years people had no hesitation in refusing to attend anything that had the tiniest possibility of being a Covid breeding ground. Now we seem to be getting back to the same old humongous smachot, floral arrangements flown in from Hawaii, singers imported from Eretz Yisroel, every bat mitzvah and bar mitzvah celebration with a motivator because otherwise the kids would not know to dance when the music begins. Yup, we are getting back to “normal” once again. I question how necessary it is to be the way we were and wish that perhaps just a drop of what we learned during the pandemic could still be implemented into our everyday lives.


Nina Glick can be reached at [email protected].

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