I do not know your origin. Rumors claim that you derived from different sources in Wuhan, China. Surprisingly, a persistent myth lingers that scientists intentionally created you in a lab.
While the world is still trying to solve the mystery of where you came from, what I am certain of is that you are a dangerous enemy that wreaks havoc in various aspects of our lives.
Nevertheless, I refuse to allow you to paralyze me with fear, as staying connected with the Baltimore Jewish community helps me manage the stress that you’ve caused all of us.
How dare you have the chutzpah to disrupt my peaceful life? You alter my daily routines and tasks. You force me to walk around town hiding my smile behind a mask, and to constantly remind myself, “Stop, do not get close to people.” That is a sad fact. In addition to all of these inconveniences, I sit quietly in my home reminiscing about the in-person interactions I enjoyed with others in the past.
I do not hold a grudge against you, even though you pose a threat to my existence. On the contrary, you encourage me to adapt to my “new normal” with creativity, strength and determination. As the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, I visit local markets and stores as well as greet some familiar faces with messages of hope.
Similarly, you’ve motivated me to become close friends with Zoom; video chats and phone calls also enable my relationships with neighbors and acquaintances to continue and bloom. Undoubtedly, our expressions of care toward each other bind us together during this crisis.
Baltimore’s Jewish organizations and publications support the fight against you by providing me with information and entertainment via magazines and digital technology. I’m inspired by reading fascinating news and stories of individuals who currently volunteer and perform acts of kindness and generosity. Likewise, the Baltimore Zionist District, The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces lead virtual educational programs and events that build a strong link between the Jews in Baltimore and the State of Israel.
Thanks to these dedicated organizations, you do not prevent me from celebrating Israel’s Independence Day or paying my respects to Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror during the yearly Yom Hazikaron ceremony.
The Etz Chaim Center for Jewish Learning is another organization that fosters spiritual and social connectedness, and conducts online classes and activities while your presence persists. For instance, Etz Chaim has presented renowned speakers and kumsitzs, or sing-alongs, which proved to be extremely entertaining.
Additionally, classes on Jewish spirituality, mindfulness and meditation, among others, offer me the opportunity to reflect on my blessings with prayers and gratitude to G-d. Lastly, maintaining a positive mindset brings me a sense of courage to hold you at bay in these uncertain times
You fuel my desire to regard my bond with the community with optimism. Despite you being an obstacle in our path, we shall overcome you together. One day, we will wake up from this nightmare of having known you and discover that you are finally gone.
I will celebrate your departure with excitement, and realize that while you will remain a lingering memory, the Baltimore Jewish community will forever be strong, united and alive. L’chaim!
Illana Meiller is a mental health counselor in Reisterstown.
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