Listen to the musn’ts, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.— Shel Silverstein
It will be mid-summer by the time this issue reaches your homes, in the strangest year in recent history. We are grappling with a pandemic brought about by the killer COVID-19 virus while simultaneously confronting societal angst, frustration and a demand for change following the killing of George Floyd. The challenges are seemingly beyond our comprehension and our experience, and the solutions are not obvious and are teasing us, just a little out of reach. Feelings of helplessness, isolation, anger, sadness and confusion and fear abound.
Our means of communicating and just being with one another drives daily decision making. Now there are actual lists rating our normal activities as to their levels of personal safety. Do we gather in person? Do we go to the beach? How ‘bout a backyard barbecue? A demonstration? And then there are the life altering questions like what shape will the education of our kids take? In person? Online? A combination of both? What about play dates? When can we visit our grandparents? Are college dorms a thing of the past? And there is new speak with terms like Zoom Fatigue, Covid Shaming, Social Distancing, New Normal and Virtual everything imaginable.
We are currently in the process of opening up which brings with it a whole new set of challenges and choices which ultimately will have an effect on our personal health as well as that of our community. All of this plus the fact that the repercussions of it all are not evenly or equally divided among all people. Some of us will fare better than others and those who are the most vulnerable in our society are having the most difficulty.
I don’t pretend to be the purveyor of new news here. We are all aware that we are living through unique and trying times and we each have our own ways of coping. I have been amazed at the creativity, resilience and strength I have seen in people I have come in contact with and those that are facing these challenges head on and are intent on improving the lives of others. Some of them are the educators who are planning for the new school year and have found unconventional ways to connect with their students. They are the medical professionals who are saving lives. They are the volunteers and the non-profits who are feeding people. They are the parents who despite being tired and angst-filled, are caring for their kids 24/7. They are those who have spoken up loudly with clarity that racism will no longer be tolerated. They are the young people who have joined in with their voices, donning facial coverings and holding signs and leading the way on our city streets. They all give me hope. All of you give me hope.
I am very proud to be working for an organization like the Jewish Federation, and in partnership with PJ Library has from day one, leaned in to the challenge of engaging families during this “new normal, “ by providing hundreds of resources and on-line activities from story times to family challenges; from concerts to cooking; from crafts to scavenger hunts; from author visits to mitzvah-doing; from parents’ groups to information sharing. My job has been to curate content from PJ Library and other sources to share with our community and to create opportunities to engage with each other in novel ways. As this situation morphs into new forms at what feels like supersonic speed, so do the needs and desires of our families in regard to programming. As I type these words, we are creating a brief survey which will go out to all PJ Library and PJ Our Way families with just a few questions to help us better plan for the year-to-come. Thank you, in advance, to those of you who participated. Your feedback is so necessary and enables us to provide you with programs you want and need. To further that end, we are also looking for parents who would be willing to serve on an advisory committee to optimize the goals of PJ Library. If you are interested in knowing more about this new parent group, please let me know.
In the mean time we will continue to provide you with great opportunities for fun activities and great resources all vetted by PJ Library, via our weekly email, our Facebook Page, on Instagram and on the Jewish Federation’s website www.jewishsgpv.org. I can be reached at email@example.com if you want to connect. I will be reaching out to you, as well.
There is a reason I did not add the word “hopelessness” to the list of feelings most of us are currently sharing. And that is because I am lifted up by you and your children and the promise of a better future which will hopefully come from the lessons we learn today.
Debby Singer is the Jewish Federation’s PJ Library and PJ OurWay Coordinator and a contributing writer to Kiddish Magazine.