Vaccinations and life thereafter

I’ll admit upfront what most would agree to — 2021 hasn’t been our favourite year.

Uncertainty about the future, even a week away, has stretched everyone. We’ve mourned losses, even if they haven’t been close to us personally, and each of us has missed at least one once-in-a-lifetime occasion, whether it is a bris, barmitzvah or a wedding.

Covid-19 forced many older adults to become tech-savvy, and the CJSA team has endeavoured to encourage our members to increase their technical knowledge, and to assist them with many aspects of isolation. When times are tough, sometimes the only person you can rely on is yourself, and we are really trying to make this so for everyone. Our weekly Monday morning Tech-Savvy sessions are gaining momentum. Feedback indicates that it has definitely increased independence, and that technology is playing a big role, allowing people to stay in touch with friends and family. Many of our members are also using technology to have essential items delivered. Learning how to use technology has prevented them from feeling lonely.

Covid-19 has impacted physical, social, and mental well-being. The uncertainty, isolation and anxiety caused by the pandemic has had a devastating impact on mental and physical health, especially in older adults who are at a heightened risk for serious complications.Maintaining mental health will be a priority moving forward.

Vaccinations providing a sense of normalcy

Many of our members yearn to return to the way of life prior to Covid and are hoping that they will feel safe enough to do so within two months of receiving their vaccine. Top priority is being able to see and hug a loved one, and attend social gatherings. Attending healthy living programmes follows closely. A silver lining is that many feel closer to their neighbours because of the pandemic.
Although masks will be a necessity for the near future, as well as distancing from others in public, we all look forward to enjoying people instead of secretly wondering whether they are carrying the virus. As a society, I believe that we have changed in many ways for the better, and are more caring of one another.

Ten things I hope never go ‘back to normal’ after COVID-19

Appreciation for small blessings — children playing on a playground, unmasked faces, gathering as family, friends and congregation. We often fail to appreciate the gifts in our lives until they’re taken away. COVID has helped me feel and voice my appreciation for so many things.

Compassion — this has abounded, from the incredible volunteers who assisted us with Shabbat deliveries, to general good neighbourliness. Compassion trickled from every tender heart as our community navigated the new normal.

Creativity — businesses found ways to adapt. Restaurants served take-aways and offered delivery. Many became creative and innovative, with home improvement becoming fun.

Togetherness despite limitations — grandparents reading via face-time instead of in-person. Chats over Zoom to keep in touch. Family members standing outside aged homes and talking on the phone or through the fence. Families organising drive-by birthdays and other important family occasions. Unwilling to accept extended isolation, people have brainstormed creative and touching ways to nurture relationships that matter most.

A greater appreciation for teachers and home-schooling parents — Parents gained a greater appreciation for what it takes to educate a child, and the challenging dynamics of technology. Appreciation for those who spend their lives educating children is always timely.

Renewed interest in reading and writing — Online book-clubs and time-honoured wholesome activities that felt easy to push off because ‘we didn’t have time’, but maybe we now see that we do.

Family meals and cooking at home — Restaurants closed and after-school activities were suspended, so most families found themselves cooking and eating at home more than they’d done in years. Meal prep became a group effort, and leisurely sit-down dinners became the norm. Diets improved as fast food meals gave way to more healthy fare. With no activities to rush off to, the pace slowed and conversation flowed. Homework no longer took centre stage. Board games followed mealtime as families looked for ways to fill the evening hours. People saved money, grew closer, and lost weight by eating at ‘Mom’s Kitchen’.

Spiritual Innovation — Shuls learned to think outside the box, bringing spirituality to the family rather than the family to the Shul. The pandemic helped expand the community by reaching people through technology, who might never have worshipped in a traditional congregation. Hopefully this will never go back to normal, so that those who, for whatever reason cannot get to a Shul, will still be able to worship with their spiritual leaders.

A return to Torah study and prayer — Having time to study online, and Covid-19 limitations have become an invitation to spiritual renewal. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, many have spent their extra time studying Torah.

A right perspective of ourselves. Pre-COVID-19 days, we enjoyed health, wealth, and freedom; we felt powerful and independent. Buoyed by our successes, we felt in control and secure. When COVID-19 restricted our freedoms, threatened our health and wellbeing, and impacted our ability to earn and spend money, much of our self-sufficiency evaporated. A profound sense of our own mortality sparked widespread fear. We learned, some for the first time, that we are not masters of our own destiny. A greater Power rules the world.

We are mindful of the possibility of a 4th wave, and we certainly would not want someone to catch the virus at one of our centres, but we do intend to open the doors early in January. We will put all COVID protocols in place, but realise there is a great need for socialisation and interaction; and we miss seeing each one of you in person. We hope to offer some great new programmes, regular outings, as well as continuing a selection of online programmes for those who are still choosing to isolate. Until then, be well, stay safe and ensure that you are vaccinated, as that is the ticket to entry to our CJSA Centres.

Diana Sochen – Director

Recipients of our beanie knitting project

Social and Personal
Even during the lockdown period, there have been numerous occasions of celebration.

We welcome new members: Ed Katz
Welcome and Mazaltov to the families celebrating births: Sadie Graziani, Great-Granddaughter and Great-Grandson; Debbie Cohen, Granddaughter; Adrienne Meyer, Great Granddaughter
Mazaltov to families celebrating Barmitzvahs and Batmitzvahs: Harry and Debbie Epstein, Grandson; Thelma and Morris Rozen, Grandson; Sandra Cohen, Granddaughter; Dan Korn, Granddaughter
Engagement: June Benjamin, Granddaughter; Shirley Elvey, Grandson
Marriage: Harriet Baitz, Granddaughter
Our sincere condolences to members and families of members who have recently passed away: Linda Levinsohn and family on the passing of her husband, Ronnie, who was the first Chair of CJSA.

Cape Jewish Seniors Association
Director: Diana Sochen, 021 434 9691,
Admin: Amanda, 021 434 9691,
CJSA on Facebook

• Published in the PDF edition of the November 2021 issue – Click here to get it.

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