A Year of COVID
Danielle Kranjec, Director of Campus Initiatives
This episode of the Identity/Crisis podcast from late July 2020 is inspiring reflection on how an organization can lean into their strengths and creatively pivot to ensure that learning happened — and abundantly! — even under the extraordinary circumstances of the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Talia Graff, Director, Northeast
In this article, Elana Stein Hain explores differences between ritual self and sincere self, and the importance of finding the balance between the two; as synagogues closed during Covid, we demanded more of the sincere self and not enough of the ritual self. She reflects on what Zoom offers and enables, and what it leaves us wanting, and shares the big ideas and questions that Covid has forced us to confront with regard to ritual: what can be accomplished by alone, by ourselves, and what requires community.
Lauren Berkun, Vice President Rabbinic Initiatives
In this dynamic conversation Donniel Hartman and Rabbi David Steinhardt explore timely questions facing the Jewish people and Israel today and assess the two features of the pandemic that have the potential for lasting impact in Jewish life: the increase in essential human conversations about values and what is most important in life; and the “flight to quality” because of choice and open access to a vast array of online programming. This deeper search for meaning and quality Jewish experiences inspires new avenues for engagement, belonging, and revitalization of Jewish institutions.
Rebecca Star, Midwest Director
“Crisis is part of being human…we can’t fight against what is happening, we have to accept it. That is consoling at times of great loss and grief. Acceptance of what is happening is deep Jewish wisdom.”
As we all tried to find ways to navigate our feelings of fear and frustration during the pandemic, Melila Hellner-Eshed’s session on Spiritual Sustenance in a Time of Crisis from last summer offers a wonderfully calming take on how to navigate the world in times of crisis, with beautiful imagery as she weaves textual sources of old to help us better understand our own responses to crisis.
This dovetails beautifully with Tamara Mann Tweel’s The Song of Sirens, her heartfelt and personal story of giving birth during a pandemic. Her feelings of profound joy and gratitude at the birth of her son, while feeling deep communal worry and sadness in the midst of a health crisis, put much about the early days of the pandemic into perspective for all of us.
Sarah Mulhern, Manager of the Created Equal Project
A year into this, it has become painfully obvious that we’re not “all in this together” – the pandemic is impacting individuals and communities in ways that are profoundly different on the basis of gender, race, and class. I’m still processing all the ways in which COVID has exacerbated inequity on gender lines in our families, workplaces, and society, particularly which of the social shifts caused by COVID will reverse as we return to public space, which will become permanent, and which will take generations to undue. In that context, this episode of the Identity/Crisis podcast from November 2020 on Gender, Power, and Covid-19 deserves a second listen.
Justin Pines, Director of Youth and Young Adult Initiatives
“The toilet paper shortage – maybe that was one of the plagues of the Coronavirus.” Every year, we have conversations with our children about plagues at the Passover Seder. How might we lead those discussions now that we are living through the Coronavirus? How is Coronavirus similar and different from the plagues in Exodus? Did Egyptians adapt their lives to respond to each plague the way we have adapted over the past year? Yehuda Kurtzer and his children explore these questions in this video from The Plagues Project, Studying The Ten Plagues with Our Kids.