In past years, July marked the beginning of the lazy, hazy days of summer. Warm temperatures and the vacation season sent us outdoors to crowd parks and beaches. Sneak a day off from work to go to a ballgame? Great idea! Take half a day for a picnic at the beach? Yup. Dinner overlooking the ocean? Great idea.
This year, of course, is different.
After months at home, keeping ourselves safe from the coronavirus, some of us are just starting to venture outside. The parks and beaches have only recently opened, with new rules and regulations in place. A trip to the beach now takes extra planning: parking passes, masks, social distancing must all factor into a fun day by the water.
Outdoor activities such as weddings, family gatherings and vacations have been canceled. And forget the ballgame. Major league baseball is still finalizing the details of an abbreviated, 60-game season that won’t begin until the end of July.
We’ve schooled at home. We work from home. Now we are supposed to vacation at home. It’s tough on the psyche. Yet some of us are still wary about venturing out at all.
Some businesses have started to reopen, but others have announced that they will remain closed, or have limited hours, for months to come.
Your Jewish Rhode Island staff is splitting our time between working remotely and at our office in the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center. One week at home followed by one week at the office. When we are at the JCC, we wear masks.
I’m developing quite a mask wardrobe. I bet many readers can relate. Fortunately for me, my sister-in-law has designed some great masks and is prolific at making them.
In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, staying at home has produced a flattened curve and a cautious sigh of relief. But we can’t help being horrified by the reports from elsewhere in the U.S., where COVID-19 is seemingly out of control. Each day, the numbers get worse. And the photos are reminiscent of those coming from New York City only a few weeks ago.
No wonder I hear people saying that they just don’t want to go out yet. Even some of the most diehard dine-out fans say they have no interest in eating inside a restaurant until they feel safer. Restaurants are working hard to counter these fears, but some of us need a little more time to see how the new safety protocols work out.
And while we are still somewhat insulated from the world outside our doors due to the virus, the world has continued to move at high speed.
Even as some people return to work, the unemployment numbers are increasing dramatically. We’re losing famous brands and favorite local stores and restaurants daily. And Americans are on edge as we wait to see if more federal relief is in sight, or whether more closures will occur.
Political races are heating up, with a continued polarizing effect on the country. Big stories from the past four years are resurfacing – from the border wall to Russia to health care. And social-justice issues – most notably discussions of policing and Black Lives Matter – are driving change across the country.
You might say the news is changing at a dizzying pace.
How do you keep up? In our house, not surprisingly, we turn to a variety of media and mediums. Print newspapers, online newspapers, broadcast and cable news. And yes, we listen to news from all sides, because that’s really the best way to form an opinion. When you are tasked with sorting out what’s happening in the world, isn’t it good to know that you have some knowledge of all the issues? Whether you agree or disagree, at least you’ve listened and been exposed to a wide variety of facts and data. I encourage all our readers – young and old, left, right and center – to do that.
Meanwhile, change is coming to Jewish Rhode Island. With this issue, we say goodbye to Karen Borger, longtime JRI independent advertising representative. Karen’s knowledge of the community and its businesses have been invaluable to all of us at Jewish Rhode Island. Her ideas have stretched beyond selling advertising to include many good stories in the years she and I have worked together.
Karen has decided that now is the time to retire. We wish her many hours of good reading in her backyard and much joy from family and friends, including her favorite pup, Elsie.