Wow, who would have ever imagined this, we are just about to mark the second Yahrzeit of Covid19. (Unfortunately, it is still very much here... but you know what I mean). So, here's my eulogy, two years later.
Dear Mr. Covid,
It is hard to believe that only a year has passed since we met you. You feel so much a part of my life. Wherever I go, I see people thinking and talking about you. Whenever I put on my face mask or have to go on another zoom, I think of you. I remember when you were far away. You had that exotic sounding name. They've called you Corona. You were almost like a curiosity; we didn't know what you were going to look like.
A few weeks before you officially arrived in our area, I brought Corona beer to our Chabad in Nashville. At the Shabbat Kiddush, we all enjoyed some beer. "Anyone who drinks Corona beer will not have a Corona virus," I said, and we all laughed. A few weeks later, no one was laughing anymore. Schools and workplaces were shut. Everyone was home, and there was an endless stream of sad news. Death, illness, overcrowded hospitals. Frankly, wherever you went, you wreaked havoc.
You have changed how people live, travel, work and study. You've changed everything.
Now, hopefully, you will be gone soon. Maybe you should take with you some of the "gifts" you brought. Working at home, for example, sounds like an attractive idea on paper. But ask anyone with young kids and a small living space what they think about it. So many of your other "gifts" are not necessary either.
Still, other gifts are ones that we will cherish. You taught us to appreciate the under-appreciated.
You taught us a new perspective of life. And you taught us to once again embrace our homes.
You see, your Yahrzeit is right around when we read in the Torah how G-d told Moses, "They shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in them." As the sages point out, G-d does not say, "I will dwell in it," but, "I will dwell in them." Because while G-d expects us to build a massive, communal sanctuary, he also asked and empowers us to build our own holy place.
For so many years, the "Jewish stuff" was relegated to synagogues and study halls. We prayed in the synagogues, we attended Torah classes, we participated in the communal holiday celebrations. That's great, but that's not how G-d designed it. He wanted us to create our own sanctuary and not to solely rely on the community. To have holiness in our own homes and spaces.
And because of you, we have done exactly that.
A few months after you came and messed up our lives, a fellow Jew told me, "I never knew that I could pray at home with as much devotion as I did in the synagogue. I always relied on the background, on the people next to me, on the singing together. And here I was alone at home, rediscovering G-d in a new way."
He is not the only one.
This past Rosh Hashanah, I was thinking how instead of the thousands of synagogues around the country, we now have millions of mini-synagogues. In kitchens, living room and dining rooms. People were creating holy spaces.You taught us to embrace the home and realize its holiness.
As we say goodbye, I don't want to say "until we meet again," because I hope I'll never meet you again.,
I do not want to say that I will miss you, because I will not miss you a bit.
I cannot even bring myself to say that your memory will be a blessing.
All I can say is this: may your memory be a lesson and may the lessons we have learned remain with us forever, and let us say, Amen.