April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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What I’ve Gained From the COVID-19 Era

The unique challenges of the pandemic alarmed me, prompted me to alter many of my habits and at times cast a pall over seasons and circumstances that otherwise would have filled me with joy. I am optimistic, though, that as the new year unfolds, and the vaccine becomes more commonplace, many of the constraints of COVID will gradually dissipate.

There are two adaptations I made in this time that I believe I will carry with me even after circumstances change. They are a renewed appreciation for the value of pen pals and the potency of private prayer (tefillah b’yachid).

My wife, daughter and I value our relationship with my brother, his wife and their kids in Far Rockaway and in regular years would visit with them every few months for a Shabbos. COVID made these visits ill-advised and I wondered how we’d keep our contact with them, and their children especially, fresh. My wife and I decided to write the children letters, enclose comic books as incentives and include self-addressed stamped envelopes to invite responses. The experiment has been a strong success and in their responses we’ve seen aspects of their growth and development that we hadn’t seen earlier. We learned a lot about our nephews and niece and hope to continue the letter writing.

With COVID-19, shul attendance was first suspended for a number of weeks and then seriously constrained for months. As a result, I found myself praying at home far more often and needed to find spiritual inspiration on my own. I decided to slow down my pace in prayer and took a closer look at the second to last paragraph at the end of the Shemoneh Esrei, which I’d previously spoken by rote. I found perspectives and aspirations I had not noticed, and they have greatly informed my prayers since. I hope to retain these valued inspirations gained from private prayer, and add to them, no matter what prevails in 2021.

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