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New Normal version 3.0

03/04/2021 11:00:51 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

How would you define the word “normal”, or, more specifically, has the word taken on new meaning since the beginning of the pandemic?  Looking over a number of definitions, perhaps the most meaningful one that I found was “the usual state”. More people speak about “the new normal” when referring to the past 365 days, and, most likely, there will be some sort of “post-pandemic normal”.

I began to struggle with the definition of “new normal” post-October 27, when the Tree of Life remained a crime scene, and I had no access to my computer, files, books, or anything in my office. Despite my residence, I felt homeless. I actually began utilizing a neighborhood coffee shop as a temporary office, for they had good coffee and free Wi-Fi, as I wanted to avoid bringing further emotional impact into my residence. I needed a safe space to go home to, where, thankfully, the media respected my privacy, except for one young woman who rang the bell. There was nothing normal in the immediate aftermath, but, after taking up the kind offer of Rodef Shalom to host us, we moved in to our new, temporary home. Eventually I was able to access my office with the permission and supervision of the FBI, and took out my computer, and then stared at 18 book cases and 12 file drawers, trying to figure out what to take. At a later point, with the assistance of a wonderful group of congregants, we packed up my entire office and moved it into my new office at Rodef Shalom. Thus began my “new normal”. As we continued to hold regular Shabbat services, even though non-stop calls from the media did not slow down, I began to settle into my “new normal”. Even with the gracious hosting of our High Holy Day services in Calvary Episcopal Church, I remained open to all of these “new normals”, and settled into what some might even describe as a routine. Then came COVID-19.

Once again, the Tree of Life was displaced, this time from its second home. That traumatized many. While we never closed, but merely changed the delivery system for all that we offer, the word “new normal” crept back into the vocabulary. To be truthful, my version is more of “new normal, version 2.0”. I believe that I have adapted to this newer version about as well as possible, and have consistently tried to remain positive, full of hope that we will get through this. As the rate of infection hopefully shrinks, and conversely the rate of inoculation increases, I can hear beyond the weariness in people’s voices a glimmer of hope, that we are nearing the introduction of a “new normal, version 3.0”.

I cannot describe what that will look like, as I am neither Nostradamus, a specialist in this pandemic, nor a science fiction writer. But I do know that we must take what we have learned during “new normal 2.0” and integrate it into our lives as we progress into “new normal 3.0”. We have made many mistakes along the way, and yet there is also much positive that we can be proud of. I pray that version 3.0 be one marked by a continued growth in our care and concern for our fellow human beings, of even more acts of kindness and love, with a concomitant reduction in H. Sounds utopian, doesn’t it? One can always hope. But that’s for 4.0.

Wed, April 21 2021 9 Iyyar 5781