Amidst packing bags, getting a cat sitter and renewing our passports, my family and I turned on the news to learn that President Trump had enacted a new travel ban on people coming into the U.S. from European countries. Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, we could no longer travel to Israel to celebrate my twin sisters’ B’not Mitzvah — the plural of Bat Mitzvah for two girls.
We moved the service to the next best thing: our temple. We kept the invite list small, only inviting our grandparents and cousins, but then the government restricted public gatherings, so we had to get even more creative…
The virus had grown so rapidly — schools shut down and social distancing became everyone’s new way of life. The pandemic has become extremely overwhelming for many, and likely everyone has had an event cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus, but my family opted for a modern solution.
On Monday, Mar. 23, we held the service in our backyard and utilized the platform Zoom, which allowed us to stream the service to our extended family. Despite being by our pool and not the Western Wall, the service was just as special.
In Judaism, we do not tend to focus on the afterlife; instead, we celebrate the present. A common phrase in the Jewish religion, “l’ chaim”— a toast meaning “to life”— is often said at celebrations, whether it be a wedding, baby naming or, in my sisters’ case, a B’not Mitzvah.
The purpose of a Bat Mitzvah is to celebrate a new stage in life for girls over the age of 12 as they transition into a full-fledged member of the Jewish community. The coronavirus has cast a spell of sickness and death over the world, and in not letting the coronavirus take away their B’not Mitzvah, my sisters serve as a symbol of life among all the death.
In this unsettling time, it is important to stay positive and continue doing the things you love, even if it means they must be altered. We must try to retain a sense of normalcy and look at the silver linings of the pandemic. Many families have embraced a sense of togetherness, since they no longer have to worry about their formerly-over packed schedules.
Important events got cancelled for almost everyone. Instead of sitting around and moping about it, get up and do something about it. Have a virtual birthday party and drop slices of cake off at your friends’ houses, or utilize Netflix Party — a Chrome extension that allows users to chat and watch videos at the same time — so you can still “hang out” with your friends. Though not optimal, try and make the best out of your current situation, just as my sisters did with their B’not Mitzvah.