Today, as we mark Rosh Hodesh Nisan, we are just 15 days away from Passover, when Jews around the world will sit together (virtually, literally, or otherwise) to retell our seminal story that has defined who we are as a Jewish people to this very day. The Passover story represents our collective memory, and these memories impact each generation. Today, we are a part of a new, unfolding human story that will be told for generations to come as well. Eventually, it will have its own Jewish perspective too. The story is how we choose to respond to the Coronavirus.
The Coronavirus will run its course and be recorded as one of the major pandemics to hit humanity. Today’s children will become primary sources when historians study and analyze this period in time from multiple perspectives, including what home life and virtual schooling were like while being sheltered in place.
What will our children remember when they someday share their recollections and stories? What will they have learned that will stay with them? Many will look back on the fear and uncertainty; however, for most, that will fade to the recesses of their minds because their parents will have protected them with reassurance, love and support – shielding them from the current barrage of news and conversation about this disease.
Some may remember specific online classes; the words of wisdom their awesome teachers shared, or because, at first, virtual learning felt different and exciting. (Though that may quickly wear off!)
After almost two weeks of SSDS Virtual School, our online distance learning platform, and conversations with other educators, I believe I may know some of what our children will someday retell their own children.
They will tell stories of compassion – compassion shown by family members, neighbors and strangers. They will tell the stories of the heroes they remember – doctors and nurses, serving on the “frontlines” in the hospitals. For many, it will have been personal because their parents were the hero doctors and nurses. They will remember their teachers who were heroes, the delivery people who brought food and supplies to our doors, as well as many other heroes.
Our children will remember that the months spent in home quarantine offered them lessons in patience and empathy, and greater respect and love for parents, siblings, teachers, classmates, and friends with whom they connected online.
They will remember rediscovering the centrality of family, not only during meal time, but in time spent together. They will have learned that there is no such thing as “quality time,” but rather, in actual time – the good, the challenging, and even the mundane.
They will remember that the pandemic compelled people all over the world to reassess their priorities; to regain their appreciation for family, to rediscover the importance of compassion, community, and service to others.
I believe we are a people of hope and therefore, each of us has an opportunity, in this crisis, to create this present and future for our children. It is already happening in so many homes and communities. I hope that we remember all that we will have learned and then use it to build a better future filled with goodness, love, empathy, service, and hope.