Personally, one of the positive results of coronavirus-based social distancing and limited indoor meetings since last April has been the opportunity to spend time outside.
Seated in a friend’s shady and leafy garden in Jerusalem several times a week for prayer services, I have enjoyed the scents of fruit trees and the melodic chirps and rhythmic squawks of birds.
Beginning at seven in the morning on Shabbat and the biblical feasts, the al fresco reading from the Torah scroll and other Bible portions, the singing of hymns and heartfelt prayer, as Jews have done for millennia, has been an unexpected blessing.
Walking home after the service, the communal singing led by the cantor’s voice in other neighbors’ yards soars through the neighborhood.
Nationwide, there is talk of Middle East peace and, suddenly, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has lost its veto power over Israel’s peace efforts. That power was held by Saeb Erekat, head of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
As the coronavirus spread, Israel helped the PA treat victims. But still Erekat blamed Israel for spreading the pandemic in the PA and irrationally accused soldiers of spitting virus germs onto the door handles of Palestinian cars.
Ironically, Erekat–who pushed for boycotts of Israel–was himself admitted to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem for treatment of COVID-19. He was on life support, depending on Israeli doctors to save him.
Worldwide, this year has been unlike any for the past century. As 2020 concludes, our family and team wish all our readers and generous supporters a joyous, if subdued, Chanukah and Christmas season and a blessed New Year.