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03/22/2020 02:00:00 PM


Joyce Levine

So what’s the big deal about a two and half hour plane ride when you can move to paradise?

Florida is palm trees swaying in the wind, water glistening under the sun, warm breezes and exotic flowering plants. After moving from North Woodmere, we had planned to spend every Yom Tov with at least some of our children – either having them come visit us in Boynton Beach or flying to New York or Arizona to be with them at special times.

But alas, that short plane trip was impossible this year. News of the spreading virus hit us like a sack of potato latkes. As the weeks passed, we understood with growing certainty that our Pesach in North Woodmere with Miriam and Alex and our grandchildren would never happen. In fact, we soon developed a sinking feeling that we would be exiled in paradise.

What does it feel like to be “exiled” in Florida? We walk around our retirement community either singly or in pairs, greeting friends from a safe distance and commiserating with each other.

“Oy, the kids!” says Frimmy. “I was supposed to have eight grandchildren coming for the whole week! What will I do with all those potato chips?” Chanie says she has never “made Pesach” and doesn’t have the faintest clue where to start. I guess she’s gone to hotels every year. Dozens were supposed to return to their permanent homes up north and they got marooned here among the palms. The streets in our neighborhood are full of people on their own desert islands, hailing each other across the water. But each has a tree, a nice patio chair to sit on, and a kitchen to cook in!

Looking ahead and envisioning our empty dining room chairs at the sedarim is a bit worrisome. Phil came up with a brilliant solution. He will go outside to collect some fallen coconuts. Each will have a face (the Four Sons will inspire my artwork). There they will sit, fully dressed, on four chairs. Of course, each will have to give a d’var Torah. What could a coconut possibly have to say? I guess we’ll find out!

Paradise is not the same without our loved ones. And it’s no surprise that the connection we have with the YINW community is one of the strongest bonds we will ever have in our lives. We are grateful for The Vacczine, for Rabbi Septimus’ wise words, Zoom sessions, and the comfort of knowing that we are all helping to keep each other safe – from a distance!

By: Joyce Levine

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782