Difficult days

April 2020
Gustavo Rymberg,
CEO Hamilton Jewish Federation

Hola. These are difficult days. I’d like to think that things are going to get better, that together as a community, as a city, and as a country, it won’t take long for us to overcome this terrible situation. It’s hard to believe that normal doesn’t exist anymore, that normal is changing every day and that slowly, we’re all being forced to adjust to a very different way of life. 

I’ve felt this lost and confused twice before in my life. The first was the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA - Buenos Aires’  Jewish Community Centre, and the second after 9/11. What’s different about today’s situation is that those events had a beginning and an immediate, tragic end with dramatic consequences. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we don’t know how or when it’s going to end. Nor do we know what will be its ultimate cost. 

But we are learning new life lessons, by the hour and by the day.

We’re learning that normal does not last forever and that the world and our lives can be transformed in an instant; that it doesn’t matter how bad last week was; tomorrow can be worse; that there are people who need our help now more than ever. People who have never asked for help, will need our help;  People whom we could never have imagined wanting for anything, are going to need to know that someone is concerned for their wellbeing and ready to help.

We’re learning that, despite the tragedy unfolding in Italy, Spain, France or Israel, people believe in singing together, in being together in different ways and that, despite our self-isolation, people around the world are finding new ways to be in touch.

We’re learning that, in a situation when doctors in Italy are forced to choose who will live and who will die, our obligation is to live every day, doing our best, as if it’s our last. 
Synagogues, churches, and mosques are closing, but we continue praying and believing, and helping others in countless ways.

We’re learning that grandparents can’t hug their grandkids, seniors are in lockdown facilities, community events, lifecycle celebrations and community gatherings are being cancelled, but we’re still looking for ways to get together. Because we need each other now more than ever.