Thursday, April 15, 2021

We at The Jewish Link, like most of our readers, have many thoughts and opinions about the year 2020, which is ending now as we go to print.

Arguably the most difficult year any of us can recall, we feel few would want to eke out even a few more moments of 2020.

For all of us, 2020 will forever be associated with the novel coronavirus, better known as COVID-19—that insidious and ultimately rampant disease that overtook every aspect of our lives. For many of us, 2020 was a year in which we, or someone we know, fell ill with this virus, lost a job or was “furloughed,” had simchas canceled or curtailed, missed out on countless family gatherings, vacations and on and on and on. And, sadly, for some of us, 2020 was a year in which we lost loved ones and could not even sit shiva or grieve in a familiar manner.

Yet, perhaps, as we look back on the year with “2020” hindsight, we can try to find the good. Indeed, 2020 was also a year in which we learned so much—about ourselves, our families and our community. About relying on one another. About supporting each other. About what we can do when we stand together. About resilience in the face of adversity. About our capacity for survival in the face of incredible suffering.

2020 was a year in which we saw tremendous chesed—done by individuals and communities and, especially, by our children. From organizations being started or expanded to deliver food and necessities to the homebound, to lemonade stands run by children intended to raise funds to help the less fortunate, to signs and driveway designs honoring first responders, medical professionals and, yes, our graduates, 2020 was a year that brought out the best in our children and our community.

Did we disagree, sometimes forcefully? We did, and some of those debates played out in the pages of this newspaper, as well as other forums. Yet at the end of the day we stood strong, offering support when needed, even from a distance. We learned that outdoor, smaller simchas could feel warm and homey. That drive-through graduations were pretty cool. That Zooming a Thanksgiving meal, or Chanukah party, still kept family connected. That personal davening allowed us time for introspection.

And finally, as the year drew to a close, our strength and fortitude were rewarded with hope. Hope that came to us in the form of a vaccine. As 2020 waned, many of our friends and loved ones who are physicians, paramedics or frontline workers began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and as we turn the calendar to 2021 we anticipate that the new year will bring the vaccine to everyone for whom it is medically advisable in the coming months.

2021 and beyond may never look like 2019. But maybe, once the vaccine takes hold and life gets back to some semblance of normalcy, we will be able to recognize that, yes, 2020 did change us forever. And, maybe, not all those changes were bad.