How will the coronavirus reshape the contours of our society?

A shattered economy, a challenged international kashrus industry, months of children at home who’ve had to navigate the waters of remote schooling, and escalated mental health issues are just some parts of the “new normal.”
When the dust settles and life reemerges from lockdown, how will our communities, reeling from the pandemic fallout, readjust to a new reality?


Mishpacha Contributors |
May 13, 2020
LAST UPDATED 4 years ago

Comments (3)

  1. Avatar

    I found Shoshana Friedman’s description of “the day after” for motherhood to be insightful and accurate. The concluding point, however, did not resonate with me and I wonder if others feel the same.
    She wrote “during these weeks shut inside our homes, our children know with certainty…” My children, ages six and two, have been shut inside for two months now. Overwhelmed by the fact that they need constant attention, supervision, and entertainment, I find myself saying “Mommy can’t right now” much more often than is to my liking. Mommy is always busy with something else and often trying to escape to a phone call or a nap.
    My regular breaks are certainly warranted, but I am not pleased with the message my kids are getting. One could argue the importance of them seeing that I am human and I have my limits, but that they are my priority? I’m not sure that’s what is being conveyed.
    In Eretz Yisrael, where I live, the authorities have begun to relax the regulations, and my kids will be returning to a regular school schedule this week. With this “return to normal,” what has changed is not so much their appreciation of me, but mine of them. The lack of guests, void of simchahs, and constant mothering has refocused me on my top priority so that now, when I am afforded those couple hours a day when my kids are home and awake, I will (hopefully) relish the time we have together. It’s quality over quantity — and that’s when I think they will actually feel the difference.

  2. Avatar
    An Aspiring Abba

    I am a big fan of Mishpacha in general, and I especially liked the various views in this past week’s section on “The Day After.” The two that are probably closest to home for most families were the ones on chinuch and mothering, and the ideas expressed there indeed resonated very much.
    What triggered me to respond is not the content presented in these two pieces, which was fantastic, but rather the surprising absence of a significant and very relevant “other”: fathering! Of course, the father’s role is very central in the realm of chinuch and talmud Torah, but it can be very dangerous to give the impression that his role is limited to that, and that everything mentioned under “mothering” is restricted to the mother.
    An abba teaching Torah to his child, mind to mind and soul to soul, is certainly the height and apex of their relationship, but the whole range of human engagement is crucial for the chinuch and the child to fully thrive. Torah and spirituality require a healthy basis of psychological and physical wellness, encompassing mind, heart, and body, and this wholesome nourishment must of course come with a balance of discipline and gentle love, including things like play and basic emotional presence. And while these things may come largely from the mother’s side (perhaps predominantly), it nonetheless takes two (or actually, in Chazal’s words: Three).
    In our holy language, “av” actually means “love, passion, desire,” and that fundamental life force is certainly at the heart and soul of the Torah-transmission that the abba imparts to his children, transmitting the loving guidance of our loving Father in Heaven.
    This trying coronavirus time period is not only putting us fathers in a position of teaching more, and not only putting the holy mothers into a position of mothering more — it’s putting both of us into our full parenting positions: being full mothers and full fathers, with all of the varying aspects and layers that each one entails.
    May Abba in Shamayim help us all to seize this precious opportunity and become the fully dedicated parents we are meant to be, in full health and holiness.

  3. Avatar
    L, Gedzelman

    Another category of how life will be changed after coronavirus comes to mind — The Israel Experience.
    I’m writing now from Har Nof in Jerusalem, and so we saw many of the seminaries empty out in anxious confusion with the spread of the virus, and felt the pain of all the girls who had their seminary year so abruptly cut short. How sad! And consider next year — even if the lockdown is lifted in the rest of the world, to what extent will the specter of a COVID-20 outbreak in the fall make parents leery of risking sending their girls — and boys too — overseas?
    The Israel year(s) for both boys and girls offer a broader perspective about their place in the tapestry of Klal Yisrael that is hard to find elsewhere. Sorry for the clichés, but where else will they get to experience a tish in Toldos Aharon, or getting brachos from a chiloni-appearing cab driver or seeing the crowd at Kever Rochel, from all walks of life, davening to our shared bubby?
    And it’s not only seminary girls and yeshivah students who grow from their time here. Consider the family trips, whether once in a lifetime, or yearly: for bar mitzvahs, simchahs, visits to the parents or to the grandchildren living here, vacations, or even an annual hotel stay for Succos. Families of all backgrounds come because they expect — rightly so — to reconnect, to be inspired, to recharge.
    But Israel is not just another travel destination. Travel to Israel is not only for jet-setters; people scrimp and save to come. It can literally be oxygen or a regular compass-tuning for those who must live in the swollen materialistic societies around the world. Obviously, there are holy Yidden living everywhere. But here the air itself enlightens us. The steps we take are mitzvos. Hashem interacts differently with us here, and we relate to Him with more ease here. Is this not obvious?
    So far, I only speak of the Torah community. But what about the rest of the Jewish People? For how many is a trip to Israel the eye-opening game changer that makes all the difference? What will happen to the many young people who come on Birthright trips, or for a J-Internship or Maor program? The majority of our “returnees” say that, if not for their experience in Israel, they never would have taken the plunge. Will the kiruv yeshivos be emptied?
    I am worried for all the businesses in Israel that rely on tourism and student experiences — and there are many. But I am more worried about the barriers created for those who currently live in chutz l’Aretz, and won’t be able to come “home” as frequently.
    I’m not an expert who can offer predictions. I’ve worked in tourism and as an olim advisor, and believe in the transformative power of Eretz Yisrael. But we all need to think how to prevent coronavrus fears from driving a wedge between those who are locked out, and those who are locked in. Discounts, promotions, liberal cancellation policies… let’s do what we can to keep our Holy Land inviting to Jews around the world, even as we yearn for the happy day when we all come home.

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