As we near the end of summer, I begin to reflect on the impact that this pandemic has had on my family and our community. Last week I was supposed to have dropped off my daughters at Camp Louise for three weeks of fun. Instead, they and I are adapting to a summer without camp. My girls love going away and feeling a sense of independence at camp. For them, it is also an opportunity to learn new things and form a stronger connection to Judaism and their Jewish friends from all over the country. Missing camp has been disappointing for them, but I have also found that the changes this summer have had unexpected benefits.
These past few months, the pandemic has forced me and my family to slow down a little and spend more quality time together. The Shabbat dinners that were being put off because we were too tired or busy are now happening, and we are enjoying activities like making challah together. We are cherishing time with the few friends we see outside the house and not taking these opportunities for granted. We have learned how to use Zoom to stay connected to many people as we celebrate mitzvahs together or mourn those we have lost.
This pandemic has showed my family and the Jewish community just how important it is to stay connected, help those in need, and offer support during uncertain times. I am proud of all that the Jewish Federation of Howard County has continued to do in these challenging times. Michalah Hoffman, our Community Social Worker, and FED TOV Connections volunteers are continuing to help those in our community by cooking and buying groceries for the elderly and those who cannot leave the house. Our chaplaincy professionals–Rabbi Hillel Baron, Community Chaplain, and Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, Hospice Rabbi–continue to provide pastoral care through support groups and distance visits. And our Mitzvah Meals program, which we will continue on a monthly basis, recently dropped off 163 lunches at Grass Roots Crisis Intervention Center for clients in need. As a Federation and as a community, through the activism of our JCRC and our important social services programs and volunteers, we will continue to work together to help those who are struggling and emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever.