We are all aware that life as we have known it has changed immensely. The current COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, and has rippled all the way to our dear Jewish Calgary. We, along with our family and friends, have taken to isolating ourselves from the broader community, and to worrying about our finances, nourishment, and well-being. For many of us, we are finding ourselves in crowded, close quarters at home for endless hours – feeling anxious, worried, and overwhelmed. For others, there is no safe home and our most vulnerable community members are that much more vulnerable. These truly are challenging times.
We are inspired, though, by the heroes in our community and beyond who are working on the front lines to provide medical care at their own risk, those who are working to support our vulnerable community members, and to keep life as “normal” as possible for our community. This past Monday, we convened a “virtual” meeting with agencies that have a physical building, a regular constituency base, or both, to talk about how they are adapting their programs and the challenges they are experiencing. We also explored ways we can work together to lead our community through the current darkness.
Even though many of our community’s agencies are experiencing great strain, they have made it a priority to ensure community continuity and care. Jewish Family Service Calgary continues to serve its clients remotely, as well as liaise with Federation and other partners on pressing issues; our synagogues are providing spiritual and educational programming remotely; and both Halpern Akiva Academy and The Calgary Jewish Academy have pivoted very quickly to provide meaningful online education for their students. Calgary Chevra Kadisha continues to do its critical work under very challenging conditions, and the Calgary JCC is working very hard to maintain its heartbeat so it can emerge with strength in the future, despite having to temporarily shut down virtually all of its operations.
We applaud the commitment and dedication of these agencies, and all others in our community that have reacted to the challenges of the times with creativity, commitment, and compassion. Decisions being made at this time are very difficult and painful, and we should thank these agencies for all they are doing to ensure Jewish Calgary has hope for a bright future when the clouds part. As such, and while we understand the personal financial impact COVID-19 is bringing with it, we encourage everyone to maintain their memberships, tuitions, and other commitments to whatever degree possible to ensure the viability of our community’s agencies. We need them to be strong for all of us in the coming weeks and months.
Finally, as we continue to distance ourselves from one another and the broader community, we would like to reframe the wording to reflect PHYSICAL distancing – while, at the same time, encouraging people to be even more positively social online and on the phone. Now is the time to reach out to family and friends we've lost touch with, pick up the phone or conduct a video call instead of sending a text or email, and, at the same time, make efforts to unplug and have conversations and play games with family under the same roof. We can treat this call to action as a refresh and blessing – a time to rethink how we’ve been living our lives, and a time to make plans for a brighter future. Jewish Calgary will get through this together!
Wishing all our community safety, good health, and social connection –