From the Desk of CEO Judy Halper: April 2020

From the Desk of CEO Judy Halper

Adjusting to the new normal during this time of crisis

Today when we speak with someone over the phone, through email or text or with FaceTime – since there’s no “seeing” or talking to one another face-to-face – we ask with true sincerity, “How are you?” Those three little words used to be nothing more than a way to greet people, but now we really mean it. We start every conversation with that simple question, and we really want to know how people are feeling. So, how are you feeling? Are you okay physically? How about emotionally? How about financially?

We are learning to live with new insecurities and wonderment. Will things go back to “normal,” or what lies ahead? We are choosing moment to moment to feel either hope or despair, or certainly something in-between. It changes often. Parents are transforming into educators. Friends and neighbors are becoming nourishers. Essential employees are those who work in grocery stores, not just those working in emergency rooms and care facilities. It’s all stressful.

At Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, our transportation drivers are less busy driving seniors to activities that keep them from being isolated. These drivers are more busy delivering Meals on Wheels to those same riders who no longer have opportunity to get out and shop for groceries, or eat a meal communally.

JFCS clients who receive ongoing and regular counseling are no longer sitting across coffee tables to interact with their therapists. Rather, they are using “telemental” health tools (Facetime and other video chat platforms) to have their therapeutic conversations. Career service clients are also staying in touch virtually with their employment counselors. The time is right for making sure one’s résumé is up-to-date, to practice interviewing skills, or imagine what career opportunities will emerge when we do from this economic and health crisis. Virtual Shalom Baby Circle Times are taking place, engaging young parents and connecting them with other young parents and necessary parenting resources.

We recognize that not everything can take place using technology, and technology cannot take the place of human contact at social gatherings. However, we are happy that our planned Seders will be able to happen virtually. The Caring Connections Seder, Freedom from Addition Seder for those in recovery, and J-Pride’s With Beloved Community Seder will all be celebrated virtually. We wish that all the wonderful and generous volunteers who have stepped forward and asked “How can I help” could be assigned a task. But with an abundance of caution, we are mostly asking folks to be patient so we can assign them when it is safe to do so.

My colleagues at the Jewish Family Service in Seattle, where Covid-19 struck first in this country, have wisely offered the following guidance. Accept that during this time of great crisis and demand, mistakes will be made, set reasonable expectations for yourself and others, and do the best you can. At JFCS, we are living and working with that good advice as guidance. Take care everyone, and wash your hands a lot!