The high holidays are early this year!
By Eric W. Schoen
Rosh Hashanah on the eve of Labor Day ?. This is something new. Yes folks, Jewish holidays fall early this year. Very early ! But then do they ever fall on time? What is on time? The reason they fall when they do has been explained to me a million times. Do you think I remember the answer. I can always google it!
The last week of August and Labor Day until my late teens, my family stayed at the Brickman Hotel in the Catskills. Like I told you before, it was like Dirty Dancing on steroids. Imagine me gorging on Danish, bagels and lox, linguini with “perch” sauce, gefilte fish, stuffed dermis and so much more than leaving the hotel around noon on Labor Day then. that buses full of old people would come in to start their vacation and come home and wait for Mom to have Rosh Hashanah Brisket Dinner on the table? Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!
Another year. I have a lot to look forward to this year. My synagogue, Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanuel-El has built a new state-of-the-art shrine for the congregation to pray. This year, the vaccinated will be able to pray together in the new sanctuary. It is a blessing.
The rabbi, cantor and synagogue leadership did a great job providing services through Zoom during last year’s high vacation and throughout the pandemic. But no matter how humble, there is nothing better than praying in person with friends and loved ones, people that I have prayed with for so many years. I look forward to this.
My vacation column is generally upbeat and talks about the exciting plans I have and hope you have for the New Year. This year, I cannot be as optimistic as usual. There is such uncertainty in the world right now. Most are linked to Covid. Will we need reminders? How many times? Some of those who received the vaccine are still infected with the virus. How is it possible?
If I could answer these questions, I would be very rich. We must say special prayers this year for scientists and medical professionals busy seeking a way to end this pandemic. The doctors, nurses, hospitals and health facilities who are doing everything in their power to protect us and assure us that the end of this terrible scourge is near for lack of a better word.
There are so many people to whom we owe gratitude in this New Year. Everyone from the cashier at the grocery store who fed us to the teachers in our schools who we hope will return in person to teach the children they desperately need. A doctor friend of mine told me a year ago that he was worried about unvaccinated students playing contact sports. Fortunately in Yonkers, our Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education have established a policy that only vaccinated students can play sports. Hopefully other school districts will follow suit.
We will wear masks in the synagogue while we pray and sing. Our schoolchildren will be wearing masks for the time being in class. Hopefully we have learned that the plexiglass surrounding student desks and all the plexiglass that has been put in place to protect those who serve and interact with us is of little use. A study just came out with something we already knew.
The best masks to protect us are the N95 and KN95 masks. Wearing a mask is a small price to pay for our safety.
Unless you have a medical reason, please get vaccinated. If you were waiting for a vaccine to be fully approved by the government, the Pfizer vaccine received it. There are plenty of Pfizers for everyone. If you are not getting the vaccine for religious reasons, please check with multiple clergy in your denomination before accepting just one opinion.
Those who show fake vaccination cards should be locked in jail. Believe me, there are plenty of fake vaccination cards out there. Be ready! If a business or restaurant requires you to be vaccinated, educate yourself ahead of time and don’t act stupid. You have a card when you got your shots and there are plenty of apps you can put on your smartphone as proof. Take a photo of your vaccination record and place it in the photos section of your smartphone next to the photos of your loved ones. You protect yourself and them.
All but 10 of New York City’s 62 counties are now at the highest level of the spread of COVID-19, which means it is recommended that you wear masks indoors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States. Small price to pay for security.
Many students have not been in a physical school building for over a year. Even the students who have been to school observe the madness that reigns in society. We need to spend federal government money on mental health services to support children as well as adults. Things have been difficult for all of us.
Many people obsessed with Covid have not addressed other issues related to their health. People have missed routine doctor visits for fear of catching Covid in their doctor’s office. At this point, doctors know what to do to keep you safe when you visit them. Studies have shown that people come with conditions that should have been treated a long time ago.
If you have health insurance, take advantage of it. Either you pay a lot of money for it, or you receive it because you have worked for a company or a government for a long time. He’s there to keep you well.
The world is in such a volatile state. Look at the situation in Afghanistan and the many American lives that have been lost for nothing. Hurricane Ida turned New Orleans into a disaster, leaving many people homeless. The same goes for the earthquake in Haiti. These are all things in the hands of God. All the more reason to pray these High Holidays.
The European Union recommends reintroducing travel restrictions for US visitors. It will be up to the Member States to decide whether or not to impose them. Until things stabilized, I would postpone this theatrical trip to London. Take advantage of the great United States. The number of incidents of flight attendants having conflicts with people flying is at an all time high. People need to grow up and behave if they fly in the once friendly sky.
Everyone is tense and nervous. We have to find ways to relax. Meditation programs are available online for free. Our libraries (especially our excellent ones at Yonkers) offer in-person and zoom programming on a range of topics. Gyms are safe places again with many masked members and hopefully a Westchester County mandate is coming, making vaccination mandatory for those who train in gyms. I don’t often agree with New York City Mayor DeBlasio, but vaccinated individuals should have more rights than unvaccinated individuals.
Keep busy. Do a good deed for someone every day. Learn about this elderly neighbor. Check in on this family next door who may have lost their job. Maybe they need food, or maybe you can babysit them while they go out to dinner.
Everything is not going to be back to normal for a while. I would have liked to have had my usual, positive jubilant message for you as we enter the year 5782. We are tough. We will get out of this !
A quick note: The Yonkers public school family lost a “gentle giant” this week with the passing of coach Willie Faulkner. He was my gym trainer at Yonkers High School and respected my limited gymnastics talents. He was involved in the Yonkers Police Athletic League and did a lot of community work both during his tenure in schools and in retirement. We traded holiday cards oh these many years after graduating from high school. We will miss him.
Contact Eric Schoen at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ericyonkers.