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Tag : coronavirus

The Lilith Blog

June 25, 2020 by

“We’re All Nervous About What’s Coming”—A Michigan Nurse on the Covid Crisis

Melissa Boals is a nurse at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Michigan. She serves on the board of the Michigan Nurses Association, which represents approximately 13,000 nurses, and her hospital recently won its fight for unionization in 2017. In early May, she spoke to Arielle Silver-Willner about her experiences during the Covid crisis, as well as Jewish identity in the predominantly non-Jewish Traverse City.

Arielle Silver-Willner: I’d like to begin by thanking you for your hard work, bravery, and the sacrifices you’ve had to make during the last few months (I heard that you had to be separated from your daughter for safety reasons and that today is the first time you are able to see her again). All of this could not have been easyhow are you?  

Melissa Boals: I’m happy right now. When I picked her up I teared up. I know that I only have so many days with her and then we’ll see what happens because we’re having a lot of tourists coming, not social distancing and not wearing masks and it’s very concerning. According to the Grand Traverse Health Department website we had two out-of-state travelers test positive. Both were symptomatic. They had traveled to Grand Traverse County to visit family, so we’re all nervous about what’s coming.

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The Lilith Blog

May 29, 2020 by

I Told Our Son He Can’t Come Home

He asked to borrow the car. 

Just two weeks earlier, he’d been sheltering with us in our Hudson River town, where he’d stayed for the first two months of lockdown. Despite our pleas, he returned to Manhattan. On a whim before leaving, he took the antibody test and learned that, like 30% of people infected with the coronavirus, he’d had it asymptomatically. Considering himself safe, he asked if he could stay overnight before taking the Honda. I reminded him that no antibody test is highly reliable and that nobody knows yet whether a true positive test means a person is immune. I had to say no. 

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The Lilith Blog

May 28, 2020 by

When Will the Counting End?

The Jewish holiday of Shavuot starts tonight. My husband, Aryeh, and I have been counting many things over the past several months: 1) the days of quarantine. 2) the omer. 3) the days that Darwin Ramos will remain with us in our home. Like everything else this year, Shavuot will be different. Not only because of the quarantine, but also because we will be spending this holiday in quarantine with Darwin.

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The Lilith Blog

May 12, 2020 by

Poetry: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Life Before The Virus


I remember shaking hands:

damp sweaty hands and dry scratchy hands,

bone-crushing handshakes and dead-fish handshakes,

two-handed handshakes, my hand sandwiched 

between a pair of big beefy palms.

I remember hairy hands and freckled hands,

young smooth hands and old wrinkled hands,

red-polished fingernails and bitten-jagged fingernails,

stained hands of hairdressers who had spent all day dyeing,

dirty hands of gardeners who dug down deep into the good earth.



Thousands of years ago, a man stuck out his right hand

to show a stranger he had no weapon.

The stranger took his hand and shook it

to make sure he had nothing up his sleeve.

And that is how it began.



I remember sharing a bucket

of greasy popcorn with a boy

at the movies

(though I no longer remember

the boy or the movie)

the thrill of our hands

accidentally on purpose

brushing each other in the dark.



I remember my best girlfriend 

and me facing each other to play

a hand-clapping game, shrieking

“Miss Mar…Mack! Mack! Mack!”

and the loud satisfying smack!

as our four palms slapped. 



I remember high fives

and how we’d laugh when we missed

and then do a do-over.



I remember the elegant turn

of shiny brass doorknobs

cool to the touch.



I remember my mother’s hands

tied to the railings of her hospital bed

and how I untied them

when the nurse wasn’t looking

and held them in my lap.



I remember holding my father’s hand

how the big college ring he wore

rubbed against my birthstone ring

and irritated my fourth finger

but I never pulled away.



I remember the joy of offering

my index finger to a new baby

who wrapped it in her fist

as we gazed at each other in wonder. 



I remember tapping a stranger

on the shoulder and saying,

“Your tag is showing.

Do you mind if I tuck it in?”

She didn’t mind. I tucked it in.



I remember salad bars and hot bars.

I remember saying, “Want a bite?”

and offering a forkful

of food from my plate.

I remember asking, “Can I have a sip?”

and placing my lips

on the edge of your cold frosty glass.



I remember passing around the kiddush cup,

each of us taking a small sip of wine.

I remember passing around the challah,

each of us ripping off a big yeasty hunk.

I remember picking up a serving spoon

someone had just put down

without giving it a second thought.


I remember sitting with a mourner

at a funeral, not saying a word,

simply taking her hand.


–Lesléa Newman

Copyright © 2020 by Lesléa Newman. First appeared in New Verse News. Used by permission of the author.

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The Lilith Blog

April 24, 2020 by

A Nanny Reflects on the Pandemic and the U.S. Labor System

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and I am sitting on the couch, in my PJs. I should be walking to the elementary school; pick-up is at 2:40. But everything is different now.

I work part-time as a nanny, and like many of the jobs that comprise the so-called “gig economy” and the domestic workforce, the Coronavirus pandemic has brought my work to a screeching halt. 

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The Lilith Blog

April 23, 2020 by

Mourning During a Period of Self-Isolation

My online college class was interrupted with three missed calls from my father, two from my mother, and a supplemental set of urgent texts saying “call me ASAP.”

I knew without even calling back that my maternal grandmother had passed. I called my parents to see when I would have to fly to Houston to attend the funeral. I had just been kicked out of school because of the coronavirus and wanted to make sure I had all I’d need to continue my schooling from Houston, where my grandmother had been living. 

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The Lilith Blog

April 6, 2020 by

Turning Days of Distancing into Days of Reflection

Progress is an American value. We are acculturated to propel—socially, professionally, economically—which makes sheltering in place excruciating. For me, not moving forward is as good as moving backwards. 

So, how can we navigate this temporary suspension of life as we know it? Some folks are turning this time into an opportunity to begin exercising, bond with family and pets, clean closets, or garden. Others are re-hanging holiday lights. I am reliving the Days of Awe.

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The Lilith Blog

April 6, 2020 by

Food for Thought on Passover

In some ways, I have always been a gastronomic Jew, that is, my Jewish identity intertwined with eating and enjoying traditional Jewish foods, like chicken soup with knaidels, noodle kugel and mandelbread.  I knew in my heart that for some of us, these foods were our “madeleines,” the tastes, smells and memories that connect us with our past.  

Years ago, after my mother died, I would wander down the aisles of the supermarket at Passover, looking at the lovely stalks of fresh asparagus, the bags of tiny marshmallows, the chocolate covered orange peels and the matzah redolent of matzah brei and I would silently weep, missing her presence.

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The Lilith Blog

April 3, 2020 by

Desperately Seeking Yeast

On day nine of Governor Hogan’s quarantine, I embarked upon a journey to find yeast. My daughter, uprooted from her college life, had decided that she wanted to make challah for Shabbat before Passover began. What a way to connect with her faith! What a perfect project for a quarantine! What a life skill! 

My weekly trip to Whole Foods coincided with this particular Friday morning, so I armed myself with a packet of my precious stash of anti-bacterial wipes and hit the crowded store. With some clever maneuvering of my cart, I made my way to the baking aisle. No yeast to be found. 

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The Lilith Blog

March 27, 2020 by

Between Purim and Passover, a Plague

Where anxiety and fear keep us unsettled, it is important to try to keep our emotional and spiritual equanimity.

It has not escaped my attention that the pandemic is happening between Purim and Passover. Purim, like Yom Kippur, is when we read a story about chance. The tables get turned for the better —that the Jews are saved not destroyed
We acknowledge that fate can change at any given moment and we pray for it turns in our favor… 

We are also headed into Passover where it took ten plagues to get us out of Egypt. Yes, people died with each plague and we learn that we don’t sing Hallel because the Egyptians drowned in the Red sea and their lives also belong to the Holy One. Yet that story of liberation has fueled many a tradition and given many hope.

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