I’ve always loved snow days. First, the prediction of a major overnight snowfall would be made. Then, with that in mind, I’d prepare for a good night’s sleep. With the dawn’s early light, I’d wake up and rush to the window, hoping to see the acres of glistening white that had floated down throughout the night. If the snow was in fact there, nice and high – and deemed too dangerous to drive in – school or work would be canceled for the day; a wonderfully random day off. And, a day or so later, life would return to normal.
During the last few weeks, however, certain unexpected days off have been anything but pleasant …
Millions of people who live in the northeastern United States (certain cities and towns in areas of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) found themselves in the unsettling wake of Sandy; the destructive hurricane that smashed into their lives (and homes) three weeks ago. They, for sure, did not enjoy the days they were subsequently forced to take off. Time essentially came to a standstill. Their daily hours were spent living without electricity and heat; waiting in long lines at gas stations to fill their cars or gas cans; and fretting over fixing the damage done to their homes and neighborhoods. For many, it will be a long time before life will return to “normal.”
For the past week, rocket fire from Gaza has blazed down on people who live in southern Israel. The regular sound of unpredictable air raid sirens gives men, women, and children a thirty second warning to safely lock themselves into bomb shelters. Then, it could take minutes, hours, or days until the “all clear” signal is heard; allowing people to breathe fresh air once again. These ongoing attacks make children afraid to stray from parents; causing many to refuse to sleep alone or leave home. Adults, in turn, work hard to keep their emotions in check. Despite how often these attacks have occurred over the decades, they are impossible to anticipate or to become accustomed to. Towns and villages repeatedly are decimated. The amount of cost and time to rebuild is staggering. Living with ongoing post-traumatic stress and intense anxiety becomes inevitable and understandable. For the majority, life will never be “normal.”
It’s amazing to me that so many people are completely disconnected from and oblivious to the trials and tribulations of others. While I’m not quite sure what Christianity says, Judaism teaches that we must be hospitable and pay attention to those in need – especially to widows, orphans, and strangers. We are supposed to be charitable and perform acts of kindness. Engaging in these activities defines our humanity, morality, and responsibility to others.
If you’ve been buried under a rock, in deep hibernation, or lying in a coma over the past month or so, don’t worry. It’s not too late to redeem yourself. You can contribute to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts (through the Red Cross) by clicking here. Or, to donate to the Israel Terror Relief Fund (through the Jewish Federations of North America), click here. Every single dollar you give makes a huge difference in someone else’s day!
With Thanksgiving coming up next week, I hope you’ll be able to enjoy your day or two off…