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03/17/2020 01:30:00 PM


Dr. Elana Kastner

The past two weeks are continuing to be a bit of a wild ride. Thoughts are swirling in my mind about my parents, my three kids, my husband, my patients, my community. There are moments of calm and pride when I feel like we are functioning as a team to beat this pandemic into a small blip on the screen. I marvel that the speed of telecommunicating with our powerful mobile phones can rival the speed of viral shedding (sneezes not included!). And there are moments of angst when I learn of positive test results among my neighbors and medical professionals and worry about further spread.

But I want to share some of the wondrous moments of the past few days with you.

Yesterday I danced with one of my closest friends - at her daughter’s wedding- while in the privacy of my home. A wedding that was planned for April 2nd in Brooklyn, but took place this past Sunday in a backyard tent in Lawrence. The chatan and kallah have many friends and were looking forward to a big celebration in a few weeks. Instead, fearing potential upcoming crowd restrictions-the groom convinced the bride on Sunday morning to become his wife THAT day.

Within a few hours the wedding took place with close family and only a few friends in attendance - and with a ZOOM video-conference allowing the rest of us to be part of the simcha. I watched the bedeken and the chupah from the comfort of my home, with many other video-conferencers smiling in their respective homes, some in quarantine. I shed a few tears. I danced. I don't know, I may have been dancing alone in my room, but it didn't feel that way to me- I was dancing with my friend and with the kallah and all of klal yisrael celebrating a beautiful moment. The essence of their joy is love and marriage - the details of the wedding were secondary. The newlyweds embraced the situation wholeheartedly and the aura of their joy infused me with happiness.

I recently went to see a wonderful intimate production of Fiddler On The Roof in yiddish with my son, Eitan. I try to imagine life in Anatevka, watching Tevye say goodbye to Hodel at the train station as she follows Perchik to Siberia. Would he ever see her again? Would he know her whereabouts? So while two of my three children are 5660 miles away, I comfort myself that I can locate my children with GPS at any minute (and I do often!), and I can’t hear their voices and see them daily on video chatting. It’s quite extraordinary. But I can’t touch them, smell them - how can I feel their presence? In times like these, I find the separation unsettling. I want the birds to be in the nest. I'm a Mom. How do we as a family bridge the chasm of physical separation? We tried to join a worldwide movement started by a DRS dad to say shma yisrael at the same moment (We were 3/5 successful). We ultimately came up with our own way of connecting that worked for all of us. A creative writing exercise. My son, Yoni, started writing a story, and then we took turns creating paragraphs for a few rounds to complete a story. It was fun and lighthearted and made us all laugh.

My husband, Ronnie, has been creating a daily video log of our dog Pepsi, relating tips on how to fare during a viral pandemic. My daughter, Rachel, organized an outdoor exercise class for a small group of 6 people on the Tel Aviv beach this week (with appropriate social distancing between participants of course).

Our greater community is doing a great job at connecting in cyberspace for educational and spiritual moments. Yishai Ribbo is singing. Sivan Rachav Meir is reporting. Rebbeim are saying Tehilim. Aleph Beta is now podcasting.

But I urge all of us, not just to participate, but to create. Use your own voice to create connections with your family members near and far. If you are under quarantine, the connection must be virtual - but as I experienced this week at my friends daughters' wedding - you can feel the joy of love and connection in cyberspace too.

May we be zoche to find ways to creatively connect and spread positive energies much more effectively than viral particles ever can.

And the wild ride continues...

By: Dr. Elana Kastner

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782