How can I post a Good News Friday 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:
Here is another “show”:
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:
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.
Another beuatiful gesture was demonstrated by the israeli public, locked away in their homes, while the medical staff on the frontlines are sacrificing their family life and potentially their safety to fight this deadly disease. The Isaeli public stood on their balconies and at their windows all around the country at 6 pm on Thursday night and applauded the medical staff loud and clear! It was incredibly moving!
Israelis on Thursday evening held a demonstration of appreciation for and solidarity with health care workers battling the coronavirus by applauding from their balconies.
The applause was heard across the country, including in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Petah Tikva and Nahariya, as well as many other communities.
President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also participated in the demonstration.
Rivlin commented, “Thank you our dear ones — the medical teams and volunteers who are working day and night in order to give all the citizens of Israel a medical response in this difficult time.”
The gesture was sponsored by retail chain owner Rami Levy and publicized by multiple Israeli news outlets, as well as the international Reuters news service.
Guy Choshen, an expert on infectious diseases at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center, told N12 as he listed to the applause that the gesture “warms the heart” and “gives support” to the enormous number of health care workers currently involved in battling the disease.
Just watch this amazing video!
Kol hakavod to everyone who participated, and to Rami Levi for the brilliant idea! This is the essence of Israel – coming together to support each other in a crisis. Sadly we have lots of experience in crises, but this one is on a totally different level.
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 everyone.