Giving thanks during a November like no other

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As I sit down to write this column, Election Day 2020 is still several days in front of us.

As you open this issue of Jewish Rhode Island, the election is behind us – but the outcome may still be in question. Let’s hope that our country remains calm and embraces the voters’ choice.

But this is not an election column. Instead, I want to offer my (somewhat) annual list of thanks – which seems more important than ever this year.

After all, even in these difficult times, we still have much to be thankful for in the United States. But, like everything else this year, my list of thanks looks a little different from usual.

I am thankful for those who work to help everyone stay safe. We have endured eight months of a pandemic seemingly without end. In history class, I read about the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. I wonder if people then felt as we do now. We are tired of the constant worry and precautions, and horrified by the rising death toll and number of infections. But there is hope in the form of vaccine trials and medications in development. Teachers, first responders, medical personal and so many others deserve our gratitude. Next month, we will have an interview with a doctor who is working to bring a trial to Rhode Island.

 I am thankful for our supportive Jewish community. There is still so much isolation, despite the fact that we do not have to quarantine. Especially among the older members of our community, staying at home often means no socializing, no hugging the grandchildren. It can be a lonely existence, particularly for those who live alone. But our local community agencies have stepped up to try to help. In the center of this month’s paper, you’ll see photos of a recent socially-distanced gathering organized by the Kosher Senior Café to bring seniors together to share food and fun. This goes on in synagogues too. Read about what Temple Emanu-El is doing in this month’s paper.

I am thankful for everyone who helps to produce this newspaper. It really does take a village to put Jewish Rhode Island in your mailbox every month. We are published by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, which means more than just funding: Staff jump in to provide stories, proofreading and feedback when necessary. As a small paper trying to cover Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, everyone’s help is welcomed. Writers, photographers, designers, copy editors – all are committed to helping inform you of what’s happening … even if you are stuck inside. Our little group has gone the extra mile in the last year.

I am thankful for our advertisers. Many have stuck with us through thick and thin. And some are looking at including us as part of their sales and marketing plan for the first time. We thank them, and we encourage you to patronize them and tell them you saw their ad in Jewish Rhode Island. Advertising plays a big part in our yearly budget.

I am thankful for my friends and family. Everyone who knows me knows that being the editor of a small paper is a big commitment. Long hours, singular focus and sometimes obsessive behavior are part of the job (but don’t tell anyone). Without supportive friends and family, I really couldn’t keep up the pace. When I realize that I haven’t talked to someone near and dear for many days, understanding is usually there. And when the house and meals fall apart near deadline day, the family usually understands. I think they realize that I appreciate them. If they don’t, now they should!

In my household, Thanksgiving is a time to sit around the table and talk about gratitude. Thanksgiving and Passover are the two holidays when the entire family gathers at my house.

We celebrated Passover 2020 via Zoom, which worked. And we thought we’d all be together by Thanksgiving. But that isn’t going to be possible.

My parents, at 91 and 83, will definitely not be at the table. It’s much too risky to even think about getting on an airplane. Their absence will be felt.

My siblings and I are still sorting out what we will do. To gather or to distance?

These are difficult choices to make in these extraordinary times. But I think we all agree that we are in this together, and I am thankful for that.

Moving forward, perhaps our battle against this terrible disease will somehow help bring more of us together in the long run – with an understanding that we are all Americans first, regardless of our color, religion or political perspective.