Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Published in "Creating Under Covid", edited by Prof Judy Baumel Schwartz
On the 15th of March 2020, also known as the Ides of March, I tool a long walk with my wife along the Mediterranean beach starting from Ceseria and ending 15 km further north on Nachsholim Nature Reserve. The long walk, still in the balmy weather of Israeli spring, was meant to celebrate my 58th birthday. Later in the evening, we had reserved a table at a local restaurant with friends and family.
That was the last time restaurants were allowed to open in Israel. This weekend, 23rd of May, marks the reopening of restaurants and therefore closes a circle.
These last three months spent in various degrees of quarantine, were both unique and universal. We all had to obey to the lockdown and physical distancing rules but we each interpreted it in our own ways. Thus, I was acutely aware of the collective force of the universal situation and struggled to find my own individual voice.
As I am by nature (I am sure this is a genetic trait) a rebellious and doubtful individual, I tried to find ways through which I could still maintain a sense of separateness and yet not engage in any activity that would endanger my friends, family and fellow citizens.
I was aware this something big is afoot. Two academic conferences I was to attend abroad were cancelled. My own conference on Postmemory and the Holocaust which was scheduled for January 2021 seemed like a prospect as solid as butter on a hot tin roof. I informed all future participants that we will have to find an alternative way to share our work. I am still deliberating what form that would assume.
I continued to work on my boom about the Leon Cohen letters collection. I have to submit that book by July 2021 so I valued the free time the lock down had allowed me. I became aware of the sense of danger that both permeated my daily activities as well as that which was implied in the letters exchanged between Paris-Salonica-Tel Aviv during the late 30’s. I often wondered and still am whether this is too unheimliche to be true…
I took to my garden often, it was beautiful at this time of year. The air seemed cleaner. I could swear there were more bees at work than in previous years. The rain showers of previous months left behind them a sense of abundance. I felt grateful for that.
At other times, I spent many hours in front of my laptop, teaching and conferencing via the inevitable Zoom. I wish I had bought shares…
And now, as the fierce Israeli summer is rapidly coming upon us, I await future developments….
Rony Alfandary, Ph.D, Clinical Social Worker
Bar-Ilan University, the University of Haifa
22nd May, 2020