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Tag : covid-19

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

April 29, 2020 by

When Home is Not a Shelter

Looking at me, you wouldn’t have guessed. I was a smart, outgoing, well-nourished, girl from a secular Jewish home, a top student at the school where I never missed a day. 

I was also a battered child.

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April 20, 2020 by

From the Editor

I wrote a very different version of this editorial many weeks ago. Then, my anxieties (yours too, perhaps) were fixed on elections in the U.S. and Israel, the trial of Harvey Weinstein, the rising and ugly challenges to our reproductive freedoms.

That was then.

Now, other questions about survival are our urgent preoccupation. 

Pray that the lessons this pandemic is teaching us—about shared social responsibility and empathy and appreciation for resilience—will remain with us as we shape a reality dramatically different from what we’d anticipated for the year 2020and beyond. In the weeks since Lilith’s winter issue, we have all entered a very narrow place, physically and emotionally. In the midst of this crisis, Lilith, like so many of you, continues moving forward, though the path and pace have altered. The staff, working remotely, join for a daily lunch meeting by video, sharing ideas, distributing the work load, acknowledging the presence of children, pets, and uncertain video connections. Lilith has a long, strong history of creating community—in print, through our blog, in the magazine’s robust salons, and with the interns and emerging writers we continue to nurture and engage, albeit at a safe distance now. And Lilith is continuing to strengthen connections with our readers by creating on-line video programming for pleasure, learning and support at this time of estrangement from our old normal.

 

I’ve been thinking of my maternal grandmother—my Baba— as I try to imagine what it felt like to be caught in the influenza pandemic of 1918. She saved the family from contagion, so my mother said, by hanging sheets soaked in bleach in the doorways of their house. Who knows what really helped? But in her stolid practicality, I see a precursor to the behaviors of so many of my friends and colleagues right now, women forced to make inventive and hard decisions we’ve mostly not faced before, as we move from a promise of abundance to a reality of scarcity.

 

Much of this spring issue was prepared before the virus struck. In those long-ago February days before the extent of the coronavirus crisis was fully upon us, I was measuring change over time using this issue’s series of first-person ruminations on hair, which in my mind would mark a shift from 25 years ago when Lilith last tackled the subject in a cover story. Entitled “Jewish Hair!” that special section in spring 1995 was described as “20 pages on Ethnicity, Gender, Power, Sex, Shame, Secrets, Independence, Laws, Identity, Sensuality, Courage.” (Hair, like money and food, is a topic uni-versal in its magnetic ability to draw out people’s personal experiences.)

 

This time around, Lilith’s editors predicted we’d perhaps see stories from trans people about hair as a liberating indicator of gender identity, or from women using their locks as a colorful

index to fashion trends. Maybe a guilty confession that covering graying middle-aged hair is “bad hair politics.” But no; we got one of the above. What you will read here surprised us. Hair as a valuable intergenerational connector, with unrecognized potential to express tenderness. The mores that dictate social interactions in a hair salon. Acceptance of body hair. Racial prejudice that punishes Black hairstyles. And, movingly, the brave and powerful words of an 11-year-old girl, losing her hair from the ravages of her cancer treatment.

 

A subject that seemed radical more than two decades ago has with Lilith’s coverage matured into a growing respect for the diverse ways we mark our identities and our emotions. A similar tone—let’s name it mutuality—appears in other sections of this issue. Raising misogyny-free boys today is a responsibility not only of their [feminist] parents, but is also shared by a society

trying to shift expectations so that all children are unshackled from constricting gender norms. And in Lilith’s section on wages, it’s clear that addressing poverty and inequity can’t fall only to calls for tzedakah or tikkun olam.

This crisis has shown us that we are more dependent on many different forms of labor than we may previously have realized, and we are called to treat all workers with the highest ethics—as Jews, as women, as vulnerable, interwoven human beings on this planet. I hope we’re all able to keep that sense of mutuality in mind as we eventually step into a world forever changed. 

In our eerie, shared present moment, I hope you’re able to stay safe, and as comfortable as possible.

 

Susan Weidman Schneider

Editor in Chief

susanws@lilith.org

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The Lilith Blog

April 14, 2020 by

All-of-a-Kind Seder in the Time of Covid-19

 In the unfolding of COVID-19, while some friends were frantically dashing back to Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven or Ling Ma’s Severence, I reached for All-of-a-kind Family, by Sydney TaylorIt’s an old children’s book, doubly old—published in 1951 and set in 1912—about the five all-of-a-kind sisters, dressed alike and running around in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, surrounded by their fellow Jews. It was the confluence of two events that brought it to mind—quarantine and Passover.

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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 4, 2020 by

ZoomWear: A Virtual Fashion Guide

Zoom meetings, Zoom teaching, Zoom Seders, Zoom Zumba; your Pandemic calendar is full but what do you wear? Lighthearted tips to help the modern social isolate shine on screen! 

Make-up: 

Your face is key! Zoom Professional allows meetings of unlimited length; you are going to get bored and sleepy but no-one has to know.  Pencil those brows into arches of amazement. (Fireplace ash works in a pinch.) Lighten the skin around your eyes with bleach wipes for an alert demeanor. Blusher masks indoor pallor. When you run out of blush, cut a beet in half and apply to cheeks. When you run out of fresh produce, smear maraschino cherries in a “C” curve starting 9mm from the bottom of your eye socket to the hollow beneath your cheeks. When you run out of red food, slap yourself in the face. 

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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

April 1, 2020 by

Migraines in Quarantine: A Comic

I’ve never tried to draw my migraines before. Then again, I’ve never lived during a pandemic before, so there are so many new things happening in my life. I found my couple of weeks working from home busier and more stressful than before the crisis, but without my normal valves to control my anxiety. It all erupted in a fantastic migraine that kept me company for many days.

 

Migraine1

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