For the last several weeks I have really enjoyed being able to walk into a store, a restaurant… really anywhere without wearing a mask. I still do keep one handy, including every so often making sure I have one in my pocket. But, it has been really nice not having to put one on, especially as the temperature has continued to climb.
However, I have a strong suspicion that these days of mask “freedom” are limited as the latest COVID numbers are continuing to climb as a result of both the delta variant and the significant decrease in the number of people becoming vaccinated each day. This bothers me greatly not only on a personal level but as the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation.
Don’t get me wrong… if the public health officials determine that the mask mandate needs to be reinstated, even for those who have received the vaccination, I will absolutely stand up and follow their lead. They are able to see data and trends, plus have the expertise, I trust them in doing what is right for our community’s greater good.
I know that it is a pain, especially since we are all getting used to life returning back to some normalcy. In fact, our local Jewish organizations, and other businesses, are trying to develop and implement their respective protocols to having people return to in-person activities. It takes a lot of time and energy to try and figure out what specific steps need to be taken, let alone figure out the most effective way to communicate them to their members or participants.
But, the challenge is, and I foresee continuing to be, the need to update these procedures and protocols on a continual basis. It feels like once we have something in place (and communicated), it is time to re-evaluate again and make necessary changes. While I know the lack of clarity and uncertainty is frustrating, I can honestly tell you it is twice as frustrating for those within the organizations who are trying to read the “tarot” cards and figure out what needs to be done to not only continue to make people feel safe, but also ensure that the programs and activities are able to take place…ideally in person. Plus, since many of us know that some people just are not comfortable (or able) to return back to attending an event or service in person, we are doing what we can to make sure their experience is a positive one as well.
Everything still just feels like a moving target and while we thought the end was in sight, it is more like we are just moving into the next phase of the pandemic. And, since none of us have ever experienced one, we are still left without a guide or a blueprint to follow.
Of course, we should be used to this by now. In fact, our tradition reminds us of this in Proverbs 19:21. “Many designs are in a man’s mind, but it is G’d’s plan that is accomplished. “A more colloqual version of this comes from an old Yiddish saying, “Mann tracht, un Gott lacht.” (Man plans and G-d laughs.)
So what do we do? Should we continue to make plans and try to figure out what to do, even if we know these plans will need to change. The short answer is yes. In the end, even as frustrated as we may feel and think that the exercise was a waste of time… the truth is that all of the thought and work that has gone into our plans can be utilized and learned from at a later date. Sort of like a real-life case study or real-world experience.
Continue to be flexible and understanding and remember… we truly are all in this together.