We’ve got what it takes to endure these difficult days J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on July 17, 2020

Jews are a resilient people. Weve had no choice, having lived through exile, persecution, pogroms and Holocaust millennia of unrelenting anti-Semitism.

And that resiliency, that ability to withstand, persevere, even thrive, is an invaluable trait in these treacherous times when we are separated from loved ones, fearful of illness, and so many people are suffering from profound economic hardship and systemic racial injustice.

It is times like this that call to mind a quote I turn to when feeling weak or uncertain:

When you have no choice, at least be brave. Unknown

Yes, these are difficult days. Not the summer we had yearned for. So many of us had hoped that by staying at home, strictly observing sheltering in place directives, we would flatten the curve and beat this thing. For many of us, it felt patriotic. We werent the first responders risking our lives in hospitals. We werent essential workers, driving buses or stocking supermarket shelves, but in our small way, we were doing our part. We were helping, too.

But sadly, bowing to political and growing economic pressure, politicians caved, and the country opened too fast. Infection rates are spiking all over the place.

Also rising are the depression rates of my friends. Have all our modest personal efforts to fight the pandemic been for naught?

One girlfriend admitted she has been breaking down into tears two or three times a day. She thought she was finally going to start seeing her grandson, but realizes that isnt going to happen anytime soon. Shes carrying on with her work, sitting through Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, but still, shes sad, frightened and lonely.

Another friend had planned on hosting a small dinner party for her husbands 70th birthday all of us gathering outside, social distancing while celebrating the occasion. But now shes decided not to risk it. She too is feeling the pain of life only partially lived, isolated from friends and community.

We are social creatures, and Covid-19 isnt just destroying lives and the economy. Its robbing us of our energy and joy. And thats where the need for resiliency comes in.

I never was a cheerleader, but it seems more important than ever that we all dig deep within and find things that bring us pleasure and strength to get through these bleak days.

If you carry your own lantern, you will endure the dark. Hasidic saying

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, wrote this in her in her article Keeping the Faith: Resilience in the Jewish Tradition on eJewishPhilanthropy.com:

The Talmud teaches that we should say 100 blessings a day. We could see this mandate as legalistic and oppressive, or we could see it as an invitation to engage in ongoing gratitude practice, to raise up the interconnectivity and abundance that undergird our daily lives even when our days are filled with challenge and loss.

I come from a family of fighters literally. My father boxed professionally for a short time. He said he wasnt very good. His explanation short arms caused by smoking cigars at an early age. But cigars or no cigars, my father really was a fighter. He had to drop out of school in sixth grade to help support his large family during the Depression. Still, he was the best-read person I ever knew. He could quote Shakespeare and Plato and debate the fine points of law with his two attorney sons. When illness robbed him of his eyesight, he still worked. He struggled, but he worked. My God, the man was the definition of the word resilience.

Once, when I suffered a bitter professional disappointment and said something about quitting, my father told me, Galatzes dont quit. He said those words to me on his deathbed. What a legacy! It wasnt pressure. It was pure inspiration. To this day, when Im dispirited and want to throw in the towel, I draw on his strength and resilience, get back in the ring and carry on the good fight whatever the cause, whatever the task.

And in these days of delayed plans and dreams, heres a final quote one I know my eternally optimistic father would have approved of:

Lets go to the circus tomorrow, if God willing were alive; and if not, lets go Tuesday. From Leo Rostens Treasury of Jewish Quotations

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We've got what it takes to endure these difficult days J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

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