I’ve tried not to write about Coronavirus here – not not let it seep into my writing on this blog and it’s almost impossible. For me, writing about Corona is tantamount to falling into a depressing pit of “what if” and “should have been”. But Corona is pervasive. Beside the day-to-day challenges, celebrating Shabbat and holidays forces us to be creative during Corona-time. I have been spending the last 7 weeks with 3 of my children, and their emotional health and spirits are first on my agenda, trying to maintain meaning and normalcy as much as possible.
We are in the midst of Israel’s Remembrance Day and its 72nd Independence Day – our national marking of Oy and Joy. These days are usually filled with public, community and family events.
But this year is different.
To avoid spreading the epidemic, bereaved family were not able to visit their loved ones on Remembrance Day at the military cemeteries. No soldiers will stand next to each grave of their fallen brothers to make sure that all those who have paid with their lives for the protection of Israel are remembered.
On Independence Day, there is a general closure and no one will be able to leave their homes. There will be no massive ceremony with the lighting of the 12 torches, no fireworks, no picnics in the forest.
Corona has stolen our collective Oy and Joy, and we are left with the question: What makes this night different from all other nights?
This year it is clear that the answer to this question is: We do!
My soldier son went to the cemetery a few days before Remembrance Day to hand out bottles of water to families who came early to visit their fallen loved ones. People stood in our common walkway to honor the dead during the sirens sounded in their honor.
More flags have been hung on my street than any other year to show pride in Israel’s 72nd Independence Day. And our barbecue will be celebrated with special foods even though the attendees will be the same as have shared dinner with me for the last 7 weeks.
We will create normalcy out of the insane. It’s an Israeli trait. We have put our babies in tent-bubbles to protect them from gas attacks during the Gulf War and sent our kindergarteners to school with their gas masks in boxes decorated with bright stickers. We wrote children’s songs dealing with emotions stemming from running for bomb shelters in response to rocket attacks. We continued to ride busses when they were being routinely blown up and walked the streets of the Old City during every interruption. We return to school and work and our daily lives with a bit of chutzpah, and bit of cautiousness, and a firm belief in that most ubiquitous Israeli expression – yihiye b’seder – that despite the imperfect present which we are living in the moment, in the future, it will be alright.
It is with yihiye b’seder that we face Corona, and find ways to express both our Oy and our Joy at this important time of year.
Happy 72nd Independence Day, Israel!