July 12, 2024
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July 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It is amazing how our lives have changed so quickly. This past week, we experienced our first Shabbat without shul, our children didn’t have any school and we all became familiar with “social distancing.” Each of us has had our own personal challenges with each new infringement on our regular routine, to say nothing of those whose family members unfortunately took ill or who became sick themselves. Community members understood that the imposed restrictions were needed in order to slow down the spread of this virus and prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed, and yet we all felt and continue to feel a deep sense of loss for our lack of Shuls, schools and social contact.

A month ago, I could not have imagined that we would be closing our shuls and that nobody in town would be able to daven with a minyan. Less that a month ago, as I am embarrassed to admit, I, like many others, blamed the media and their often-exaggerated hype for the hysteria and anxiety that surrounded the coronavirus. But I was wrong. This virus has in fact caused harm to many people’s health, and it has instilled a sense of fear, panic and loss into the entire community. At this point, I know a number of people who have or are suspected of having the virus. Most are OK, but some are very sick, requiring hospitalization and ICU care.

During times of stress, our instinct is to seek out others for comfort and support. Calling someone on the phone or texting is just not the same as sitting with someone over a cup of coffee for a good schmooze or going for a long walk with someone. But the need for social distancing prevents us from interacting face to face during this stressful time, which adds to the stress even more. The necessity to close the schools has contributed to the general feelings of uncertainty and lack of control experienced by both parents and children. And because of social distancing, parents often cannot get the support from other members of their family, which once again creates more stress.

So what have we learned in week one? One thing I have learned is that we have amazing educators in our community. Our rabbis, school administrators, teachers and assistants regrouped and restructured, and within days, converted frontal learning into a completely online format. Children in pre-school through graduate school are now learning online, and plenty of live shiurim are now being given online for all to benefit. This is truly amazing and is something we should be proud of. Parents have quickly adapted to having their children home, and while trying to work themselves, have found a way to make sure that their children are being educated. You are awesome.

For those of you who had a simcha this week, mazel tov. We can imagine how hard it must have been to have marked this joyous occasion without so many of your friends and family members attending and celebrating with you.

For those of you that had to say kaddish for a loved one and could not, we are so sorry. We feel your pain. My husband will observe the first yahrzeit for his father this coming Sunday night, and he will not be able to say kaddish.

There are, however, some things that we can and should do better. Due to a sense of panic, some of us hoarded food, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, sprays and hand sanitizers so that we could make sure that we were well stocked, not thinking that our neighbors would be left without certain basic supplies. Some of us got into petty arguments in stores or made disparaging remarks about others.

What can you do to help yourself get through this? Try to set up a daily schedule and then actually follow it. Make sure that you are getting up and dressed every day. There are many resources in the community available; reach out to your local rabbi or rebbetzin. Some mental health clinics and many mental health professionals are offering teletherapy for adults and children. As noted, there are online classes being offered multiple times a day for adults on a variety of Torah topics. Concerts, magic shows and exercise and yoga classes are being offered via zoom and other platforms. Please take advantage of them.

It is imperative that you and your children go outside every day. The weather is beautiful, and the outdoors is free and available–– we are not presently quarantined in our homes. Make sure to stay physically active. Resist the temptation to binge on television. Eating junk food, or just eating too much, is a natural response to being cooped up and bored, so try to limit yourself and your children to one treat per day. Try to eat healthy food, low in sugar and high in nutrients. Try to get enough sleep––six to eight hours a night. Reach out virtually to your friends; try to speak on the phone to a friend at least once a day. We need to do everything we can–– not an easy task––to stay as healthy as possible both emotionally and physically during this time of crisis.

As a community, we are strong; let’s continue to support each other through this difficult time. Let’s see what week two brings. Hang in there, take a deep breath through your nose and then exhale. Do it again and then again. Shabbat Shalom.


Beth S. (Bassie) Taubes, RN, CHC, CYT, is the owner of Wellness Motivations LLC  she motivates clients of all backgrounds, ages, and health conditions to engage in improved self-care through nutritional counseling, personal fitness training, yoga practice, tai chi  and stress reduction techniques .. She is also the Rebbetzin of Congregation Zichron Mordechai in Teaneck.

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