Why living in interesting times is a blessing and a curse

On Monday 16 March I tried to edit content for the Pesach issue with my staff, all of us working remotely; while simultaneously guiding three children through day-one of their online home schooling. There was a moment where I had to go take deep breaths outside. Radical change is not for sissies.

The night before, my eldest daughter and I sat and listened to the President lay out the protocols for the coming weeks and as her eyes teared up, I realised that I was watching a seminal moment in her life story. The language I use, and the attitude I adopt will become a framework upon which she will hang her entire experience of COVID-19. I have such power over how my children form memories around this time and I want to grasp the sliver of silver lining and run with that.

Never has my privilege, power and responsibility been more apparent. I may have lost my freedom of movement, but I still have so much.

I have a job that can be done remotely, and my team is motivated to make this new normal work. But with my job security and flexibiliy comes my social responsibility to keep paying those who rely on me financially, even if their work cannot be done remotely.

I also have the power to support those service providers in our community who may be suffering because of social distancing. Please try to support the Jewish businesses that are under real pressure right now, whenever you can.
I’m fortunate that I can shop infrequently (without panic-buying everything on the shelves) to minimise social contact, because I have enough money to do so.

I need to think about those who can’t, and how I can help them. Can I set up a weekly online delivery of the basics to help someone else in my community? Can I deliver food myself, or support my local food bank?

I can choose to keep my children enrolled in their extramurals. Even if at the beginning, the Facetime, Zoom or Skype lessons seem glitchy. I am ensuring that the wheels keep turning, and every little bit of grease counts.

I can explain to my children that we are not staying home because we are afraid of a virus. We are staying home so that we don’t inadvertently share germs with someone who isn’t as healthy as we are, or who may have an underlying condition. We are staying home so as to minimise our need for medical testing or intervention so that someone else will have it available when they really need it. We are staying home to flatten the curve.

I have a choice; I can focus on my family only and show my children that in a crisis we look in, or I can show them through our actions that we always have the option to be kind, to help those who have less than we do, to lead by example, and in these interesting times, set our narrative as the story unfolds.

Zissen Pesach, Chag Sameach! While our seder tables may be smaller this year, let the hearts that sit around them be bigger than ever.

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