May 23, 2024
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May 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Silver Linings in the COVID-19 Era

With all the unwelcome changes prompted by the precautions to discourage the spread of COVID-19, it’s no wonder that many people feel discouraged. The lack of predictability as to when life will “get back to normal,” and the bitter political partisanship that’s become embedded in governmental discussions on how best to proceed seem to heighten the uncertainty of the situation.

And yet, if you ask around, you can find community members who will point out some prime benefits they or others have experienced since the precautions began.

For Milton Erdfarb of Highland Park, a retired benefits and entitlements specialist currently providing consulting services, the COVID-19 time is for the birds. And he means that in the best possible way.

“One of the bright sides of this time for me has been appreciating all of the birds that fly through Highland Park, and my shul, Congregation Ahavas Achim, has aided that pleasure by providing daily outdoor services. While I’m davening in the synagogue parking lot with my head down towards my siddur, my cell phone is recording all of the birds around us. When davening is over, I have the app BirdNet analyze the bird sounds to tell me which bird is providing a real twitter backdrop to our tephillos. So far I’ve learned there are 17 different species joining us for Shachris, Mincha and Maariv.”

For Chana Rothstein of Edison, who works as the executive assistant to Rabbi Gedaliah Zlotowitz, president of ArtScroll Mesorah Publications in Rahway, the COVID-19 season has reinforced her admiration of her own family.

“I have witnessed my husband rise to the challenge of being an incredible ‘stay-at-home dad’ after being furloughed due to COVID. And I have also been able to enjoy watching my children strengthening their relationship with each other while they only had each other as playmates.”

For David Tawil of Highland Park, a matrimonial and family law attorney with Lindabury McCormick who attends Congregation Etz Ahaim in Highland Park, the COVID-19 restrictions have given him a gift of time with loved ones that he would not otherwise have had.

“The forced isolation created an opportunity for my siblings and myself (a total of six of us) to start weekly Zoom sessions with our mother, lasting several hours at a time, to get together, catch up and just relax for a few hours per week. This is not something that we had been able to experience (or felt compelled to engage in) prior to COVID.”

For Jeffrey Taub of East Brunswick, the vice president for corporate marketing at AKRF, Inc., a planning, engineering and environmental consulting firm, who attends the Young Israel of East Brunswick, recent events have opened his eyes to unwelcome risks to his well-being.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened my awareness of personal health risks I take every day but have failed to mitigate: riding a crowded and largely unsanitary train to and from New York City every day, crowding into elevators and conference rooms, touching common office supplies and equipment and the like. I’ll never again be so cavalier about health and hygiene considering my public interactions and what I bring home to my family.”

For Steven Steinhart of Highland Park, the managing partner of Kossoff PLLC law firm in New York City who attends Congregation Ohav Emeth in Highland Park, the COVID-19 restrictions are a spiritual nudge he deeply appreciates.

“One bright side is that it has helped put things in perspective. It is a daily reminder, as if we needed one, that we are not running the show.”

For Renee Klyman of Englewood, grassroots director of Teach NJ who attends Congregation Ahavath Torah/Benaroya Sephardic Center in Englewood, the COVID-19 season has given her new perspective on some the challenges she addresses in her work.

“I’ve learned how efficient we can all be remotely and how it can change the way the workforce operates, with possibilities for increased flexibility. I’ve also seen how remote learning can radically change how education is offered in the future. ”

For Tzvi Berman of Teaneck, a financial analyst who attends Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, the current conditions have given him an unexpected gift of time.

“With all the sudden changes I have found a lot more unstructured time. I was able to reach out to my dusty ‘to be read later’ bookshelf, which often makes it all worth it.”

For Lila Guzman of Highland Park, a retired administrative assistant for a major law firm who attends Congregation Ahavas Achim, the new normal has brought home to her how much family matters and how close they are.

“You can see the love your children and their families have for you. My son and his family, and my daughter and her family, will visit with me outside, they will call daily to check in, and they often bring me delicious food. It’s so heart-warming!”

Rabbi Eli Reisman of Edison, a member of Agudath Israel who teaches in a yeshiva in Brooklyn, has found that the COVID-19 restrictions have provided us all with a welcome cue for introspection on the quality of our davening.

“The closing of the shuls removed the communal /social aspect from prayer. Praying alone, while technically inferior, gave us an opportunity to check how genuine our connection was. Had we been praying all this time just because it was what our friends did? Or did the lack of distraction cause a deepening of our devotion? This was a chance to assess ourselves.”

By Harry Glazer

 

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