by Phyllis Chesler
Staying indoors is a privilege, not a punishment, when it is raining outside—as it is today in Manhattan. My weather app tells me that the humidity is 92% and the risk of flu is “high in my area.” Thus, it’s a perfect day to do what I usually do: Read, write, and edit manuscript pages as I listen to classical music, scour my emails, and read articles.
I have more time to read books, which is the greatest luxury imaginable. I always read commentaries on the Torah, such as Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sack’s commentaries Covenant and Conversation; the incomparable Nehama Leibowitz, and the great Nachmanides. Right now, I am also reading Erik Larsen’s The Splendid and the Vile—about Winston Churchill, the very man whom I voted for in the last election; Anne De Courcy’s Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944; and Ines Rieder and Diana Voigt’s The Story of Sidonie C. Freud’s Famous “Case of Female Homosexuality.” I hope someday to be done with Europe both before and during the two World Wars, which is also the subject of so many films.
This is how I lead my life when no plague is raging. All that’s changed is that I cannot visit or host family, friends, or colleagues; go out nearby for dinner and a movie; or deliver a lecture. But my life of Ideas goes on. I have been publishing articles and lecturing via webinars, and happily attending live Torah and Talmud classes online.
However, reality is far too surreal for any jollity. I am much quieter than usual in terms of calling people. I am driven silent before the high death count in my own city (18,000 and counting), and by the recent suicides of a doctor and a young paramedic.
Should I consider leaving the city for good? Where would I go? How will people eat if they have no money or if the food chain degrades? How is the Virus affecting refugees everywhere, who are crammed into tents and prison-like facilities? Will the Virus keep returning? Will we find a vaccine that works for everyone? What will the parents of young children do given that summer camps are being cancelled and there is only a 50-50 chance that NYC schools will reopen in the fall? Is it safe to re-open public spaces?
Sometimes I think that I may never go out again.
"....Will the Virus keep returning? Will we find a vaccine that works for everyone? What will the parents of young children do given that summer camps are being cancelled and there is only a 50-50 chance that NYC schools will reopen in the fall? Is it safe to re-open public spaces? Sometimes I think that I may never go out again."" Indeed this virus with it's transmissible sickness and not a small amount of death is yet not as expansive as the hong kong flu of 1968 that took 100,000 US lives. I will note that the cdc is about too, going to have to decrease the amount of actual deaths from the 65,000 reported to about 37,000 shortly which is the more accurate number. The medical systems get reimbursed more for covina 19 and should be as they and we and all of us have been told to be separate and quarantined. Appropo your comment- I hope you get to shake a hand, hug a friend, a dear one, a child and have this dread removed from your being. As I am long in the tooth now, as are you, we, should be more careful but the population should shortly begin to mingle and engage their personality, their physical presence as the virus will be here but I believe it is not the bugaboo the politicians so desperately seem to need. See for example, Dr Andrew Bostom's articles- he, an epidemiologist at the U of Rhode Island school fo medicine and a professor internal medicine on the matter. Shavua Tov.