We are the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.
We are the ones exploring unknown territory.
We are living history.
Some might suggest that America is being overly cautious, that all our safety measures are grandiose. Others argue that it is our obligation to protect our health for the prosperity of the nation. Nevertheless, the opinion that sticks with me as I sit at my desk, typing on my computer during quarantine, is the ones of the rabbis. The rabbinical leaders’ attitudes are pivotal for the survival of the Jewish nation, not to mention our spiritual growth.
Let’s take my personal experience as an example. My school has ordered us to self-quarantine for 14 days, and afterward, carry out social distancing earnestly. I have been stuck at home for what seems like an eternity, sitting in on my online classes and remaining sedentary on my couch. Of course, this extended break from school’s everyday pressures is relieving and comforting; however, after this much time has passed, I had to focus on one particular subject to ease my ennui: the extreme precautions implemented on American Jews.
Rabbinical leaders across the United States have emphasized the importance of Pikuach Nefesh or saving a life. They have gone to extremes to protect the health and sanctity of the Jewish life to essentially eradicate the virus from our communities. To demonstrate, on Purim, the holiday of spirit and dancing, Jews were told to remain at home and practice social distancing. My rabbi has shut down my local shul in efforts to contain the virus from infecting Jews in our tight-knit community. And what is arguably most significant, rabbis warn to modify Simchas that appear different from how they looked weeks ago. Have you ever seen so many Jewish weddings in backyards with only 10 guests?
Therefore, when at home, instead of complaining to your parents, “Can we please just leave the house?” or “No one will notice if we just visit a friend,” take into account the following message. The rabbis in our communities are looking out for us. They are putting our safety as a priority so we can live a healthy life filled with religious development and Torah learning.
Since coronavirus precautions are currently principal to my everyday routine, I too have experienced the drawbacks associated with them, including not having Seder with my extended family and not being able to daven Shacharit near my friends in synagogue. Yet, I urge Jewish teenagers to take this struggling time seriously and maintain the rulings of your local rabbis because every life matters.
Remember, we are living history. And nothing can stand in our way.
Rochel Itzkowitz is a junior at The Frisch School in Paramus, N.J.Nike