June 20, 2024
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Baruch Hashem, We Are Alive

It has definitely been the year of years! I doubt that any of us will ever forget this sudden transition from behaving and interacting the way that we always did to the total devastation and isolation that many of us have felt over the past 12 months. I feel guilty when I remember the onset of this plague and my thoughts that people were greatly exaggerating the coronavirus. Never did I dream, I guess none of us could imagine, how our lives were about to be turned upside down.

A year ago on the first night of Pesach my grandchildren stood several feet away from our front door and sang the Ma Nishtana to us and then went home. It reminded me of when carolers visited homes and entertained those in the home. My Mordechai had no idea that it was Pesach. He was still in the throes of the virus and when I suggested that we open the Haggadah with the candles burning brilliantly near us he just looked at me. I suggested that we sing the “Ma Nishtana” together and realized that for the first time in my life I was experiencing a seder alone.

I suggested he go to sleep and I sat at the table reading the Haggadah. This happened both nights. It took me a very long time to come to terms with the fact that my life partner, who basically I have shared every breathing moment of my life with, who has been my rebbe and teacher as he had been to so many others, was not able to comprehend that it was Yom Tov. I cringed and cried if he accidentally turned on a light, not remembering it was Yom Tov. I painfully helped him dress, reminding him that it was a chag. I explained to him over and over again what COVID was. After the chag, we would drive in the car and he would repeatedly ask me why there were no cars in the parking lots of shopping malls. Again and again I would explain, and he kept saying “Really? Why?” Was there an answer that would make any sense? Certainly not to anyone.

Throughout the horror of this time I felt the utter terror of what would have happened had we hospitalized him. I firmly believe that he never would have come home from the hospital because he would have been totally disoriented and alone. How in my entire life am I ever able to extend proper hakarat hatov to Dr. Joey Shatzkes, Dr. Mark Gardenswartz and my amazing children and grandchildren. My children risked their own lives to save ours. How can a mother repay that?

The year has been long and trying. Yet I almost feel guilty talking about our experiences when I realize the number of very special people who were lost from this awful plague. I think of, and talk frequently to, my friend Rochelle Turetsky, whose husband, Arthur, was a victim of COVID who attended the Young Israel of New Rochelle. As Rochelle explained to me, he sat in the same small room each day for Daf Yomi, and every man in that room contracted COVID. Only Arthur, a caring doctor and well known baal midot, succumbed to the illness. I think of the passing of Dr. Shalom Buchbinder, who I only knew slightly, and every time I think of his wife and his seven sons my heart is broken. Two gentle talmidei chachamim whose lives were dedicated to others were among the many that we have lost. I am at a loss in trying to understand any of HaKodesh Baruch Hu’s plan.

As I write this several days before Pesach the sun is shining and there is warmth in the air. I am reflecting on the paradox of life, feeling as though we have been in solitary confinement for so long and at the same time celebrating the births of three new great grandchildren and the wedding of our grandson, Ezra, to Shoshana within the past three months. Is that not a firm message that life is going on and there is hope?

Maybe maybe the virus will eventually be behind us. We have been vaccinated and feel grateful that in such a turbulent year scientists were able to devote themselves entirely to finding it. We are able to spend time with our children more comfortably. The more people are vaccinated the more at ease we will be. Akiva and Leslie have stood outside freezing while visiting us. Soon they will feel comfortable to visit safely, weeks after being vaccinated. If only the government of Canada had been on the ball. They are now the 43rd country behind Bangladesh in vaccinating their population. So we are still not able to visit our daughter Naama across the border. All in all there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Much more important is the fact that in many ways normalcy is returning to our everyday lives. Yesterday I was despairing to my Mordechai that I felt so useless at this time of year. Whereas Pesach was one of the highlights of our lives in Montreal, where I cooked and prepared for a month so that we could have all of our children and grandchildren at home in a “Pesach program” with the Glicks, I now am literally not needed by anyone. I know that many of my friends are happy to give over the reins to their children to prepare holiday meals. I for one was not ready to give it all up. I look at my Pesach groceries and I cannot believe how little I purchase now. I poured my heart out to my soulmate and in typical Mordechai Glick fashion he repeatedly told me how lucky we are to be together, to have our wonderful children, that it was their turn to take over and repeatedly told me how lucky we are to love and have each other. That is my Mordechai. In many ways he is back! Yes there are still deficits but this year on Pesach I will not have to explain to him what is going on in the world. For that I am forever grateful and all that I can think about is b”H we are alive.


Nina Glick lives in Bergenfield with her husband, Rabbi Mordechai Glick, after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for special needs young adults. She can be reached at [email protected].

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