Cherishing our need for connection
Last Friday, when my family’s WhatsApp chat was abuzz with updates about our working and learning from home, we decided to take advantage of this very strange moment of confinement.
My brother, a teacher and the Director of Technology at his community’s local day school, quickly orchestrated a Fleischmann family video conference, and there we all were. Hailing from Cleveland, Teaneck, Manhattan and Efrat, we delighted in the results of what had always seemed an impossible synchronization. Ordinarily, it’s hard enough to reach just one other household, let alone all five at once. And so, for about fifteen minutes—until the cacophony of competing voices became too much to manage—we asked about each other’s welfare and sent wishes for a Shabbat Shalom.
Since our family’s Friday afternoon reunion, I’ve been silently berating us for having to be awakened by this pandemic. Why don’t we convene virtually every Friday? At no cost, we are enlivened and made instantly more joyful. And, in just a few short minutes, we are reminded of the fullness of each other’s lives—of how much value there is in things we take for granted and of how very curious we should be about the people closest to us. There was tremendous vibrancy—movement, noise and unique busyness— in each square of our gallery-view chat, and I was humbled by life’s recurring realization that while my world continues to turn, so do all of the others that intersect it.
I wonder—isn’t this an important enough lesson to reaffirm much more often than we tend to? And shouldn’t we coordinate these sorts of opportunities in calmer times as well? Is there a way for us to awaken to what’s important without the aid of panic and fear? Is there a way for us to cherish our connections when they aren’t forcibly severed or compromised?
As we wade through the complexities and demands of our new reality, I wonder if it might also be a time for resolutions. Can this altered way of living be a teacher of some kind? Though we feel our patterns and habits have been undermined, might our well-trodden paths be lit anew, revealing areas worthy of adjustment?
Readers, we’re curious. What opportunities have you found in these challenging times? Have you awoken in some way? Going forward, are they changes that you will make? Let us know in this Google Form.
Malka Fleischmann is the Director of Knowledge and Ideas for The Jewish Education Project.