Embrace the new normal – for now


I wish I could assure you that this will be my last correspondence about life on hold. But I’m pretty sure there will be more in the months to come.

Regular readers might notice that from my first column mentioning the coronavirus, in April, until now, I’ve gone from upbeat and hopeful to a lot less so. In rereading my past columns, I surprised even myself.

It’s not that the news has gotten precipitously worse over the last month. Well, maybe it has, but not here – the New England states seem to be doing a good job in keeping the virus somewhat under control even while cases and deaths are skyrocketing in other parts of the country. 

And it’s not that we haven’t had a chance to get out. We can now go to the beach – socially distanced and with masks, of course. And we can dine inside or outside at a restaurant.

But whatever we once considered a normal life now seems to be on hold. After all, for the moment, you can’t have that big, celebratory dinner at your favorite restaurant with all your friends and family, can you? Summer festivals, fairs and concerts are no more.

So the challenge is to take what we know is possible right now and make it our new normal. Instead of lamenting, let’s make the best of what we can do.

That’s what pulls me back toward hope.

In my family, our life went on hold in March, when my brother had to postpone his small wedding. He expected to have a dozen guests in his New York City apartment, but the city was heating up. First the caterer canceled, and then those who had to travel were hesitant to attend (myself included).

Then, my niece was due to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah in April. Not a party girl, she had agreed to a nice luncheon after the service. But by the time of the Bat Mitzvah, she would have been chanting to an empty sanctuary, and she decided that she didn’t want to go on Zoom. The rabbi agreed she could wait.

We’ve also missed birthdays and health crises that would normally have seen us hop on a plane to be there to celebrate or help out.

Despite all this, my extended family agrees that we feel closer than ever because we have established alternative ways of communicating. Weekly Zoom get-togethers are a welcome break, no matter the technical and scheduling issues. There are new text groups that we make sure to keep going no matter how much energy they take. And where would we be without the masks made by my sister-in-law to help us stay healthy and safe?

That is our new normal for now.  But someday soon, when the vaccine is ready, I hope there will be a Bat Mitzvah celebration in my family, as well as the delayed wedding, other missed celebrations and many, many more simchot.

And I hope there will be in your family, too.