We of all people know that the transition from 2020 to 2021 is merely an arbitrary marker which signifies nothing of substance in itself. And yet the start of 2021 is as good as any point to reflect on how life will soon — so we all hope — change for the better.
The invention of a Covid-19 vaccine is a miracle of human ingenuity; the roll out of the vaccination programme will require mass planning that dwarfs anything seen since 1945. There may no equivalent of VE Day but the release from the virus’ tyranny will have a similar feel.
Yet while we may long for an imminent return to normality, now is the time to consider what lessons we can learn from out time in the virus’s grip.
No one suggests the virus was anything other than a disaster; but in learning to cope with it many of our community institutions adopted new modus operandi that were, for some people, an improvement on what went before.
Zoom has been depressingly ubiquitous but for all that we have missed sheer human contact, a combination of the ease of attending digital meetings and their relative anonymity has prompted far greater participation in many events than before.
This week’s triumphant online Limmud is a case in point. Clearly there is no desire to repeat the force of circumstance behind it, but as we return to physical contact, we must learn from this year and adapt how we define ‘normal’.
We need to remember, far more than we used to, that inclusivity is not a buzz word to be trotted out but a prerequisite for a thriving community. Given how eager we are to rebuild communal life, that is pretty fundamental.