By David E. Kaplan
Little did we think when we watched a year ago the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ and joked that “Winter is Coming” that the show’s most memorable marketing metaphor of impending doom descending on the landscape would step out of our TVs into our very lives.
Corona affected everyone everywhere. And like in the award-winning mythical saga of demons, dragons and the demented, in our wonky world of 2020, people perished, much of our commerce suspended or died, and a powerful leader of the most powerful nation on earth – confounded by the science, fell – to the dismay of his mega-million followers.
“Winter” came with a vengeance and we wonder if our lives will ever be the same again.
No doubt when folk turn on their TVs to watch the countdown to midnight on the 31st December and observe the fireworks first in Sydney; and then illuminate across cities circumnavigating the globe, they will be praying for some semblance of “life as we knew it.”
Diminished social intimacy and wearing masks for fear of ‘the next virus’ is not something we want in our proverbial luggage as we travel into the future!
Still, we do have to marvel.
With all the pain and discomfort, we have to tip our hats to those brave souls who day in and day out returned to the terrifying trenches, helping the inflicted and preventing those from being inflicted at great risk to themselves and their families.
The death toll from Covid-19 has surpassed the number of Americans killed in World War I and the Vietnam War combined. And this December 2020, the number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the US now surpasses the number of people who died on 9/11. How sadly ironic that so many of the first responders in 9/11 are falling victim to Covid-19!
First, it was the horror of that tragic day as first responders ran into the fire as debris rained down. Then followed months of grueling work to remove the bodies and clear the pile as toxic dust inevitably filled their lungs. Then came the illnesses – asthma, cancers and COPD.
And in 2020, nearly two decades later, the coronavirus pandemic – which, in so many cases, feeds off the underlying conditions like the ones 9/11 survivors developed – has finally taken their toll and in many cases, their lives. For those with already weakened lungs and immune systems, this latest challenge has been too great to endure. Beset by Corona, the list of 9/11 victims continues to grow.
And as with the 9/11 first responders, so too have been the healthcare workers on the front lines of the global effort to care for patients with COVID-19 putting themselves at risk for infection. Thousands from a multitude of countries, professions, and specialties have died, and we honour them all.
See the Light
As in the story of Hanukkah, which Jews around the world are presently celebrating where we are reminded of miracles – a small quantity of oil to light the Temple’s menorah miraculously lasted eight days – even today’s cynics and skeptics have to marvel as to how humanity has miraculously responded to this pandemic with rapid resourcefulness.
Questions were raised as to how we might achieve the impossible.
It was said that “it usually takes 10 years to develop a vaccine”.
I recall endless opinions and comments in the news media along the lines of from “The grim truth is that a vaccine probably won’t arrive any time soon” to “Our record for developing an entirely new vaccine is at least four years — more time than the public or the economy can tolerate social-distancing orders”.
And yet, as we in Israel saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein attend the arrival of a DHL freight plane transporting the first batch of Pfizer vaccines at Ben Gurion Airport on December 9, 2020, we had to marvel how this vaccine has gone from the drawing board to imminent distribution in such a short period of time.
No, it did not take years but months as people in Israel will start receiving their doses from the 27th December, four days before New Year 2020. Coronavirus czar, Nachman Ash, said he hopes Israelis will be able to celebrate Passover 2021 in an almost restriction-free manner.
“I assume that in March-April we’ll already return to significant activity. My hope is that we can celebrate Passover in an almost free manner.”
How we in Israel recall that it was during Passover 2020 – falling during the initial outbreak of the pandemic – that the government ordered an overnight curfew, confining Israelis to their homes for the first night of the holiday.
A festivity all about celebrating FREEDOM, Passover 2021 may be the momentous milestone when we all return to FREEDOM.
Now that’s something to cheer about – “L’chaim!” (Hebrew “to life”)
*Feature pictute credit: Illustration by Joseph McDermott
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