It feels like we were stocking up on toilet paper, worrying about spring break being canceled, and purchasing our very first masks just yesterday. Somehow, 365 days have passed since COVID-19 shut the world down. Over the past year, the pandemic has ravaged the world, and while things have slightly returned to normal with the emergence of vaccines, we have far to go until the world gets back to life how it was pre-pandemic.
Last March, when the pandemic was just beginning to wreak havoc, we had no clue what was in store for us. We didn’t know whether we’d be dealing with COVID-19 for a week, a month, a year, or a decade. Over the past year, we’ve transitioned from face-to-face communication to Facetime and Zoom, and we’ve witnessed some of life’s most important moments from behind a screen.
The Jewish community has persevered through a multitude of challenges and adversities during the pandemic. From celebrating holidays over Zoom, to sleepaway camps being canceled, to blame and discrimination, this has not been an easy year for Jewish Americans. However, while the challenges introduced this year were foreign, Jewish perseverance is not.
As we celebrate our second-annual virtual Passover, spirits may be down. This time last year, we had all hoped this would be over by now. However, when comparing last spring to now, while one may remember seemingly-endless quarantine, one must recognize growth and change as well. Pandemics and disasters like them have a natural ability to lower morale, stress relationships, and isolate people. While COVID-19 had the ability to tear apart the Jewish community and disconnect people from their religious identities, it did the opposite.
The Lost Tribe community flourished this year, bringing Jewish teens together from around the world. We gathered for game nights and tournaments, celebrated Hanukkah and Purim together, and—most importantly—built new friendships.
This year, we have learned that coming together doesn’t have to be face-to-face. While synagogue looks a bit different on Zoom, and holidays may be more fun in person, the Jewish community has prevailed this past year, and will continue to do so for centuries to come.