As I ponder the past 6 months in this strange new world, I marvel at and am grateful for, the innovations in the technical field.

Let’s talk about Zoom in particular without getting “ausgezoomt”.

Zoom has enriched our family life and we are grateful to have it.

The first foray was in order to continue attending Shoshana Zucker’s classes in English.

This was good for me. I began taking notes, which I had never done before.

And I did not have to look for parking!

Then came the Zoom Seder. One of the best Seders we have ever had. We were 6 people on 3 screens. We all had the same food and Hagaddot. We blessed, drank, read, “took a break” for dinner and returned to finish the entire reading!

We even had my Mother in Florida “be” with us for a bit. Ah, the joys of modern technology, when it works!

Since then I have actively looked for events on line.

The first was a Zoom trivia quiz through ESRA. We were 64 computer screens divided into 9 teams. It was a blast.

Breakout rooms with strangers, sharing answers and trying to win.

We had such a nice evening we looked for more.

Recently there was a Bingo night. Again, quite a lot of fun. Again, with strangers. And,no, we did not win anything.

All in good fun.

On the serious side was a three-part lecture/ semi-virtual tour leading up to Tisha B’Av through Beit Avi Chai.

Terrific guide, lots of detail and perfect timing for the Fast Day.

We also did go on a virtual tour of the Western Wall Tunnels, another ESRA activity. The historical and pictorial ground work made it evermore special.

No traffic, not hot and the ability to be with a lot of people without wearing masks.

Hod ve-Hadar adapted to the ever-changing Corona regulations and held the annual fund raising event on Zoom. Kudos to everyone involved..

It was heart warming to witness deserving friends receive their recognition.

And there were the 2 Zoom weddings we attended. Felt like we were there. The photographers did not block our view and we were honoured to be guests.

But THE BEST of all was my Mother’s 95th Zoom birthday party.

I have a cousin in Pittsburgh who is a Professor of screen writing and every week he puts out a podcast.

I know he has a professional  studio in his home and the ability to host a zoom event, record and edit it.

So what did I do?…

Yes, he agreed to host. He has a special relationship with my Mom. Then I approached my 2 sisters with the concept. They thought it was a great idea.

Had we not been in the midst of a pandemic the entire family would have travelled to Florida, as we did for her 90th birthday.

Just as I began to plan it in my head, there was a  newspaper article narrating this exact experience. The positive suggestions, the planning procedure and the pitfalls were all duly noted.

I sent my sisters the plan, suggesting a day and time. We 4 generations are spread between Israel and California and we have 2 college professors and 2 public school teachers in the crowd.

Sunday is the best day. Evening our time. 11 am in California.

Ready to roll.

Guest list. Birthday cakes (everyone has their own), candles, balloons, party hats, poems, songs, good wishes. We were all ready.

Thank goodness for mom’s friends who made certain she had her favourite chocolate cake.

We even had some practice sessions with Mom prior to make sure she was comfortable with Zoom.

On the day, we had the usual Zoom glitches with some folks not being able to get in at first, but everyone managed. So from age 3-95 we had a birthday party.

One of the best hours I have ever spent in my life. Her mike was open the whole time. Her responses to people were from the heart.

She is a remarkable woman and she thoroughly enjoyed every second.

The recording is no less precious than the actual event itself.

So what have I gleaned from all of this? Although I spend more time at home than I EVER did, I have learned that I can adapt myself to limitations and find NEW ways to learn, celebrate holidays, tour, participate in games

and celebrate family milestones on the internet, particularly on Zoom. Bless the inventor.

What will we do on Rosh HaShana? Raise a glass, bless the bread, bless the first fruits and enjoy with family and friends on Zoom. 

Have a happy and HEALTHY 5781.

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