June 18, 2024
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June 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It’s true: We will not be gathering around the table with many of our children and grandchildren to celebrate the big turkey fest. One could say that under normal circumstances we have this opportunity each week on Friday night or Shabbat afternoon, but, let’s face it, there is something special about driving to someone’s house for a festive meal no matter what the distance, cooking food that does not have to heated up and precooked in advance, and allowing the children to watch a movie on our TV (chas v’shalom) that will hold their attention for quite awhile. (Note that none of our married grandchildren have TVs in their homes.) There is a different kind of festive feel to it and we look forward to next year, when we should all be well and able to do it once again. I’ve decided that instead of feeling upset about the circumstances surrounding all of the restrictions we have upon us, we are going to enjoy what we can do and give thanks for what we have.

First and foremost, we are alive. We are weathering this storm with all of its restrictions and allowing ourselves the ups and downs of what comes with each day.

I am, at times, totally bewildered by the number of people who show such ingratitude for things that they have and complain about things that they get. The New Jersey State Department of Agriculture is now giving every family free food for each child in their household under the age of 18. What is even more amazing is that for families who observe the laws of kashrut it has been arranged for them to receive kosher food prepared by various kosher caterers, dairies and bakeries, depending upon their location, throughout the United States. How come this never occurred when our children were of school age?

I cannot help but laugh at the number of times that I read that people are complaining about the free food they are receiving. “Why did they send so many blintzes? My kids ‘hate’ the blintzes.” “Who wants whole wheat rolls?” “What, they sent chalav Yisrael? Who wants it?” “Oh no, they forgot I want chalav Yisrael!” Today I overheard someone say that she had 16 containers of milk. Packages of deli, fruits and vegetables, both canned and fresh—it sounds like an awfully big deal to me. Yet people are complaining about the selection. There is the option to not sign up for the packages. I only know of one person who has done so. I am sure there have to be more. It boggles my mind each time that I think of it. Annoyed at a selection of free food.

This is the week to be reminded of giving thanks.

In the midst of COVID, many are making smachot. No one could have imagined how different their original expectations of what the event would be like were from the reality. Bar and bat mitzvot were celebrated, weather permitted, outside in driveways, backyards and as drive-bys. The young honoree was exalted as best he or she could be and no one will regret it in the future. Being healthy and safe was the utmost concern instead of the number of people present, the centerpieces and the animator. It was an exuberant feeling of thanksgiving. Engagements and weddings are down to minimal attendance, dependent upon the rules of the week, often changed by the day. Families had to realize how lucky they were, not only because they had the opportunity to see their children married and happy, but also because they had to recognize the number of young people in the “parsha” who would do anything to have a wedding of any size taking place inside or out. They are searching so hard to find the “right” person and so far he or she has not appeared on the horizon. The venue would be the least-important consideration for them. Making a brit on Zoom would be more than fine for young couples struggling with infertility issues.

The message is to realize that in these crazy times, when we hardly recognize anyone as their mask hides most of their face, and we cannot gather with friends in our homes and need to stand away from each other as we talk, that we are still the lucky ones.

We have so much to give thanks for. We have each other. We have our community. We are the winners, and the more we celebrate life in the new norm, the more we have reason to smile and give thanks for having made it this far and feel proud of who we all have become.

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