How can I post a Good News Weekend post amidst this unprecedented worldwide quarantine which has confined millions to their homes, shuttering businesses and places of entertainment and leisure, and bringing the world economy to its knees? There are more unknowns than knowns, and the worst is the not knowing.
Are the experts right that the virus is not airborne? (There is a corona hospital 5 minutes walk from my house).
How long will the quarantine last?
Will the pandemic resume if quarantine restrictions are lifted after the numbers of infected flatten out?
Will the virus mutate into something worse? Or will it become less dangerous?
Will we develop some kind of herd immunity? When will a vaccine be developed?
Will there be enough food in the shops to sustain us through this closure?
And yet… and yet…
Here are some bright sparks amongst the fear and paranoia:
It started in Italy with “balcony singing”: the quarantined residents stepped out onto their balconies and enjoyed some “distance social interaction” by singing together:
Italy – Balcony Singing – Reaction To The Coronavirus Lockdown pic.twitter.com/eyUxtinyn4
— TalkinRice (@RiceTalkin) March 16, 2020
Here is another “show”:
Oh to be in quarantine from my balcony in Italy singing LORDE pic.twitter.com/GYxZsuuJI8
— ☆nab☆ (@9naby99) March 15, 2020
There were several such events and I think they are a marvelous idea to help keep people’s spirits high and preserve the feeling of neighbourliness in an impossible situation.
The idea spread to Israel of course, and I am proud to say that this took place in my home town, Petach Tikva:
Following the inspirational example of many Italians, a neighbourhood in Petah Tikva, Israel, holds a "balcony party" (with one of my favourite songs of recent years). pic.twitter.com/3OwTRjGT1M
— EinLi Eretz Aheret אין לי ארץ אחרת (@EnLiEretzAheret) March 16, 2020
There was even a Hebrew newspaper article about it, which I roughly translate below:
The balcony singing that began in Italy has now reached the Hadar Ganim neighborhood of Petah Tikva. Today, Pirchei Yerushalayim, hosted by Hanan Avital, a resident of Hadar Ganim, became part of a balcony party in the neighborhood. The musical celebration was organized by a member of the neighborhood committee Arik Hamo, when he and his wife Idit hosted Pirchei Yerushalayim on their balcony. “I was approached with a proposal to do balcony singing,” says Hamo. “Just as we were setting up in the complex there was a wedding in one of the gardens and we decided to do it on the balconies and to raise their spirits. We organized quickly and got started. We publicized it in the neighborhood’s WhatsApp group and all the neighbors came out with flashlights and it was a lot of fun. It was an amazing experience, the neighbors all sang with us and applauded and it was very moving.” Hamo says that this is a seven-tower complex in the form of a U so everyone can see each other.
“Initially we considered doing it in the plaza, but in the end, in light of the current situation, we decided to do it on the balcony of our apartment. We also broadcast it Facebook Live and received lots of warm reactions.” Hamo further adds that, in light of the reactions, they are considering doing this again: “We got very good feedback. People said it made them happy and warmed their hearts. Pirchei Yerushalayim also sang a song written specifically about the coronavirus, and we’re definitely considering doing this again.”
Kol hakavod on the initiative of the Hadar Ganim residents, and the wondeful response by the Pirchei Yerushalayim band. What a heart-warming gesture to raise the residents’ spirit and bring joy to the wedding party too!
But here is one of the most moving, spine-tingling balcony “events” of them all. Instead of singing, the quarantined residents poured forth their voices in prayer to G-d:
The words are from the end of the Yom Kippur prayers and are at least as emotional. May G-d hear their prayers and ours and remove this evil plague from our midst speedily in our days.
I want to wish everyone, wherever they are, whether in quarantine or simply waiting the crisis out at home, whether G-d forbid they are sick or hopefully recovering, refuah shlema, a speedy and complete healing, may Hashem watch over us and protect us and help us find a treatment and a vaccine for this terrible plague.
Meanwhile a very strange Shabbat is about to approach, one where almost every synagogue in the world will be closed, something that has probably not happened ever in our entire history. And those synagogues that are still operating are allowing in only 10 men, sitting far apart, all under age 60 with no health problems. If anyone had told me 2-3 months ago that this is what we would be doing and this is how we would be living 2 weeks before Pesach I would have laughed. No horror movie or science fiction book could have thought up this pandemic.
But we have to keep up hope that this will end, with G-d’s help. We must pray and not lose hope or despair.
Shabbat Shalom and wishing you Chodesh Tov, may the approaching month of Nissan, traditionally the month of Geulah (Redemption) bring us a true Redemption.
Shabbat shalom and have a good weekend everyone.