After weeks of living in a world turned upside down by the coronavirus, the political voices calling for a return to normality are growing louder and more impatient.
As much as we all may wish for it, however, there will be no return to normal anytime soon.
As Gov. Gavin Newsom made clear in his televised message this week, California’s six-point plan to reopen the state will be rolled out slowly, steered by the advice of public health professionals and other experts. Social distancing and a disabled economy are here to stay for a while, perhaps a year or more.
What does this mean for the Bay Area Jewish community? It means continued suspension of cherished traditions and institutions. No Jewish preschools or day schools. No holiday celebrations. No summer camps. No religious services. No galas. No Jewish film festivals.
When we finally begin to restart these institutions and activities, some may be different, reimagined after months of virtual engagement. Perhaps we will see more online lectures, to draw the larger audiences we are now seeing, or new, creative ways to use digital technology in the spiritual realm.
Make no mistake, ours is a community in pain, with unthinkable closures and job losses. J. is chronicling these stories, just as we are reporting inspiring stories about individuals and organizations stepping up to keep health care workers safe, and reaching out to the elderly, the vulnerable, the lonely. We are taking care of one another. The power of community will keep us strong.
Over the past decade, Jewish publications have folded in many U.S. cities. In recent weeks, two major Jewish newspapers in England and the only national Jewish media outlet in Canada succumbed to the economic devastation of the pandemic. They represent an enormous loss for those communities.
J., however, is still here. We are grateful so many of you have responded to our appeals. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark recently donated $100,000 to J., saying, “We need to assert Jewish values far more than ever… Supporting Jewish news is a good way to do that.”
As Jewish history professor Jonathan Sarna wrote earlier this week, “Without a reliable press, our community’s past — the records of its achievements and mistakes, its milestones and its missteps — will inevitably disappear. So too will our broad sense of what a Jewish community is.”
We agree. Please don’t let what happened in England and Canada happen here. We are relying on your support more than ever, and you can rely on us to continue keeping our community connected, informed, enlightened and, yes, even uplifted during this extraordinary time.