Another Reason to Dislike Shabbat During the Pandemic

Plans to spend Shabbat somewhere else keep getting thwarted.

Tried to go on an international trip with a Jewish organization that would have also included Shabbat plans. Husband was actually game to go this time (kind of), but the flights wound up being too much of a logistical nightmare.  I’m up for pandemic travel, but I have limited patience for flights with multiple layovers. So that got scrapped.

So then I thought that maybe instead of trying to plan indulgent, impractical Shabbat plans, maybe it was better to do something practical.  I no longer enjoy living where we currently live and am really interested in moving Somewhere Else.  A Shabbat with no local plans could be a good opportunity to spend Shabbat Somewhere Else and learn about another community that might be a better fit.

***

In pre-COVID times, I was rather good at making new short-lived friendships when spending Shabbat in new communities.  I knew how to write a request to an area synagogue such that the community would love to host me because I would sound like a charming and wonderful Shabbat guest.  And I was, in fact, a charming and wonderful Shabbat dinner/lunch guest.  I’m a good Shabbat meal conversationalist with total strangers (and Husband is actually even better at this).  And I’m good enough at reading people to know that my/our Shabbat hosts had a genuinely good time hosting us.  (Oddly, reading people’s facial expressions and learning if they actually liked you or are lying and didn’t like you at all was another skill I picked up from competitive karaoke).

But no matter how charming you appear to be, it’s still a pandemic and people are less willing to host because of COVID cooties.

To the tune of “Who Says You Can’t Go Home“: Doesn’t matter where you are, doesn’t matter where you go. No one wants to host you for a Shabbos in their home…” Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

But also, I think I have lost some of my charm. I have three parent-friends living in Somewhere Else, and I stalled on asking them about hosting us for a meal because the thought of having to have a catching up, “how’s life during COVID and oh my, the kids have gotten so big” conversation seemed like more than I could tolerate.  Even though this is exactly what will happen if we actually move. Also, I hate having to ask parent-friends for Shabbat hospitality because I don’t want to feel obligated to return the favor and have to invite them back. I can’t win.

Update

Weather forecast = snow, so it doesn’t make sense to go Somewhere Else when between weather and COVID, no one is even going to bother going to synagogue so we won’t have the chance to really see what the community is like.

This means Shabbat at home. Again.

27 comments

    • I think what gets me isn’t really the actual being home (which, though not my first choice, isn’t that bad and it’s certainly no worse than pretty much every other weekend of the last two years), but more the roller coaster of looking forward to the possibility of plans, trying to make them, and then the making of plans being a fruitless endeavor. It feels so pointless to even bother trying.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi JYP, you wrote: ‘ …it’s still a pandemic and people are less willing to host because of COVID cooties.’
    Totally agree and it’s such a shame. I learn Torah with a few women at my home during the week. Our group is very small. Other people were interested, but only if it is on Zoom they told me, (I’m sick of Zoom), and others who said they were interested have yet to show up. I think various forms of covid are here to stay.
    I don’t know how people can live in a bubble this way.
    😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s very exhausting. I also was an excellent Shabbos guest when I was younger. Now I find it difficult to host because I’m not that close to synagogue, although I do take guests for Seders (Rosh Hashana, and Pesach) although not this year, because we plan on traveling. I also find it difficult to be a guest at this time, because the pandemic is so exhausting, I barely have spoons to care about myself, let alone other people. Although my primary draw as a younger guest was helping in the kitchen and entertaining the littles. Now I’m at an age where my kid would play with the kids and it would be weird if I abandoned the adults to have better conversation with those who are more my intellectual equals.

    Liked by 2 people

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