Let us celebrate a virtual holiday season with more hoping, less moping!

By Betsy Frank

Betsy Frank is UHC para-rabbinic fellow and president.

Is 2020 really the year without holidays?

We celebrated the High Holy Days via Zoom. Thanksgiving and now Hanukkah occur during a partial lockdown. And if you are a part of an interfaith family, as are 71 percent non-Orthodox Jewish families*, you probably will miss the family Christmas celebration.

The holidays haven’t disappeared but are certainly different this year.

I had been moping around lately contemplating the fact that Dick and I will not be celebrating with family — that is, until I began to reconsider our situation. In fact, technology has allowed us to remain quite well-connected during this period of isolation.

Betsy counts her blessings, and her social circle

For example:

  • As some of you know, I am subscribed to Daf Yomi, a seven-year cycle where we study a page of Talmud a day. Recently, I celebrated the end of Tractate Eruvin with more than 600 people from around the world.

    Recently, I commemorated the Year of the Nurse and Midwife with the Hadassah Nurses Council.

    I also gather once a month with a group of women from the U.S., Canada and Israel to study together.

  • Recently, I commemorated the Year of the Nurse and Midwife with the Hadassah Nurses Council.
  • My book group continues to meet weekly via Zoom.
  • And of course, our congregation collects via Zoom each Friday evening to celebrate Shabbat.

As an aside, post-services a couple of Shabbats ago, we all shared some of our personal family heritage. What an interesting time it was!

So, why are my spirits now lifted? I realized that I am a part ot several communities that connect via the wonders of technology. I can interact with many people via Zoom, in addition to my family’s FaceTime meetings.

Yes, face-to-face is truly better. But imagine the social impact of a pandemic 30 years ago when Zoom, Skype and FaceTime didn’t exist.

We’ll gather with family next year

I will miss my family this year for sure and may experience a “down” day occasionally. I suspect I am not alone in that fact, as many of you will miss your large family gatherings.

I am grateful, however, that I have my health. Fortunately, no member of my family has contracted COVID.

So, why are my spirits now lifted? I realized that I am a part ot several communities that connect via the wonders of technology.

As we begin the December holiday season, let us remember this pandemic is a temporary situation.

So please, mask up, wash your hands and hope that next year — perhaps by the High Holy Days — we will meet again in person.

Shalom and Happy Hanukkah!

Betsy Frank

* This statistic surfaced several times during the 2019 URJ Biennial and is verified in the 2013 Pew Research Center Religion and Public Life Survey.

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