Looking Back on a Strange Year

Only now as life begins to return to normal do I fully appreciate how bizarre the past year has been

Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Yet another normal day in Israel. What’s interesting is that this normality is no longer normal for us. We have to again get used to normal everyday life. At least that’s how I feel. It’s amazing what we got used to and accepted as the new “normal” over the past year.

I regularly bought new masks and even have a permanent place for them in the apartment. Once I forgot my mask when I got out of the car. I felt as if something wasn’t quite right and a bit uncomfortable. It wasn’t until I got back to my car that I realized, with great shock, that I had been walking around without a mask. I quickly looked around to make sure a policeman hadn’t seen me, and then put the mask back on my face, which provided an odd sense of relief.

A picture from the past: During a lockdown, Jerusalem looked like a ghost town.

Another time, my wife and daughter took me for a walk through our neighborhood, something we’d been doing regularly since the lockdowns began. When we got to our small mall, we saw that the ice cream parlor was serving customers despite the lockdown. Our daughter wanted one, but it was forbidden for restaurants and cafes to have direct contact with customers. We had needed to instead place our order by phone and receive the ice cream at some other location. I remembered an incident in which a group of soldiers were fined 500 shekels for daring to show up in person to pick up their pizza order. It actually sounds kind of scary now that I recall it. Back to that ice cream. My wife is braver than me in many things and unabashedly walked up to the ice cream parlor and placed our order. Suddenly, I felt like a lookout man, quickly checking in all directions to make sure a police officer wasn’t coming to fine us. But the mission was successful and the ice cream tasted twice as good after what we went through to get it.

Eggs were in short supply back then

I have other bizarre stories, such as coming up with tricks to get more eggs than the one carton per customer that most stores were allowing at the beginning of the crisis. It required teamwork, and the involvement of the entire family. And the feeling of coming home with more than one carton of eggs was one of triumph. What a crazy time.

Fortunately, this time is behind us. And since we get used to new situations quickly, we will certainly get used to normal life again in short order. But even though Israel canceled the requirement back on Sunday, I still see a lot of people outside in masks. Maybe they just need a little more time.

The new attitude toward life without a mask, Jerusalem this week

However, there are a few things that the Corona year brought us that I am reluctant to do without. Clear roads is one. But there’s nothing for it. Traffic jams are an unavoidable part of everyday life, and they have returned in Israel with a vengeance. Gasoline also costs more than 6 shekels per liter again. After the first lockdown the price was heavenly low. What has remained is the fact that I still order a lot of things at home instead of going to the store. Home deliveries work much better today than they did before Corona. I prefer to go to the supermarket myself, though. You still have to wear a mask there. But it’s only a matter of time before the masks will be a thing of the past everywhere.

What we’re really looking forward to is having all of you visit us again at our offices in Jerusalem! But first, your countries must also get the pandemic under control. I’m sure it won’t take much longer, and soon enough we will see tourists on our streets again. In fact, Israel will allow the first groups of tourists from certain countries return to use in one month’s time!


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