Topics: Coronavirus

A Never-Ending Shabbat

What are we supposed to do with our children during this unexpected 5-week school “holiday”?

A Never-Ending Shabbat
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

My children last week ended their studies on Thursday and joyously entered into the weekly Shabbat rest. Problem is, as far as they are concerned, the Shabbat never ended. And it won’t for the foreseeable future.

Israel has come to a standstill amid drastic measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Among the first things to be closed were universities, schools and kindergartens.

It’s not meant to be seen as a holiday, but that’s how the kids are taking it, at least so long as the government doesn’t completely lock us all down to our houses. Children on bikes are racing down the neighborhood streets, the playgrounds are full and the kids won’t stop nagging us to have sleepovers. After all, tomorrow there is no school!

Meanwhile, many of us parents still need to go to work, creating a difficult situation. At least at Israel Today, we have the flexibility to work from home a day here and there to help with the children. My wife, however, works at the hospital, and might soon need to give overtime hours as the burden on Israel’s health care system increases.

Despite the new challenges, I must say that at this point, I can see why the kids are so thrilled. The entire situation does have the atmosphere of holiday, or at least a certain degree of “adventure.”

Of course, that could all change rather quickly should the spread of the coronavirus accelerate, or the sick begin to die. We need only look to Italy for a sobering reminder of how horrible the situation can suddenly become.

When I’m not overly occupied trying to keep the children entertained during their indefinite Shabbat, the present situation provides opportunity to reflect on our true place in the universe.

In our modern day and age, man feels more powerful and in control than ever before. But the coronavirus has knocked a bit of sense back into our heads. We aren’t nearly as in control as we imagine.

I, for one, am not scared, or even worried. For me, this is where faith really kicks in. Our belief in and reliance on God as our ultimate protector and provider must by necessity now transcend the weekly church service.

That doesn’t mean we won’t be touched by coronavirus or its societal effects. But it does mean we have no need to fear. If nothing else, this is a golden opportunity to teach our children this critical lesson in a very experiential way. If only I could get them to stop bouncing off the walls for 10 minutes…

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