PRESIDENT”S MESSAGE – July 2020
We were supposed to go to Baltimore last month. Diane is a Family and Consumer Sciences professional and her professional organization holds an annual conference each June. Last month’s conference was scheduled for Baltimore. I tag along on these conferences so that I can explore new places while she is in conference sessions. In the evenings we go to dinner, sometimes on our own and sometimes with other conference attendees. Before we go, I do some research and try to find out what there is to see and, importantly, what food is the city known for. I think a city’s signature dish is a wonderful reflection of the city’s history and culture. In Saint Louis, there is fried ravioli, barbeque, and a horrid version of pizza. In Dallas there is, what else, barbecue. In Baltimore, it was to be crab cakes. (I know, how could the Temple president mention tref in his column!)
Because of the coronavirus, the conference was cancelled. Instead, the organization put together an online conference with Zoom sessions. It worked out well, all things considered. Diane wrote a column about the conference for the organization’s California affiliate organization, and in that she discussed the one shortcoming of the online conference, close personal interaction. Although she could “see” many friends and colleagues attending, she could not hug dear friends, she could not catch-up on their lives, she had no opportunity to meet someone new by happenstance. At a conference many years ago she was looking at the poster presentations and met some colleagues from Iowa State University. From them she learned about a doctoral program that allowed for distance learning and intense summer sessions in Iowa. It gave her the opportunity to do something she had always wanted to do, earn her Ph.D. You never know who you will meet or what you will discover when you are really there.
Human beings are social animals and we need contact with other people. Since March, much of our social interaction has been replaced with online work and classes, and even online worship. If we are lucky, we might have online sessions where we can see the other participants. We have held several Temple meetings on Zoom, and while it really gives one an emotional lift to see others, it isn’t the same as sitting around a table face to face. Even as we explore the possibility of resuming live Shabbat services, we keep reminding ourselves how different they will have to be. There will be social distancing, face masks, and the taking of temperatures. There will not be prayer books, congregational singing, responsive reading aloud, or a communal Oneg Shabbat. Many of our community will not join us out of an abundance of caution. And there will be no hugs. Jews hug. Jews like to tell stories and jokes and laugh out loud together. That will have to wait.
No one really knows how long it will be like this, but we know it will not end any time soon. While it is normal to think about all the things we won’t be doing for a while, we do need to fight the propensity to dwell on what we have lost. We need to make the most of what we still have, what we can still do, how we can still interact. We need to look for the opportunities the current situation allows us. Diane and I have managed to clear off the DVR, do more gardening, and use some of the things that have been sitting in the freezer a while. I’ve even read a few books that would not be relevant to our book club.
We will get through this together. Perhaps not as “together” as we might like, but as “together” as we can. One day this will be behind us. Then we will trade stories about how we coped, we will tell jokes and laugh right next to each other. We will raise our voices in song and prayer together. And we will hug!
Wish everyone a wonderful Independence Day.
IRA L. GOLDSTEIN, President