Welcome to 2021

So the hiatus went on quite a bit longer than I expected. I found myself wrapped up in following the US election and since that’s not the point of this blog, I didn’t want to post my thoughts on it here. On top of that, this strange year turned out to be the year of the cat.

In June a cat came to me begging to be rescued – it was in terrible shape and couldn’t eat. So I brought in the vet for her immediate teeth problems, then got her spayed, and tried to release her. She wasn’t having that, so she’s stayed around.

Another cat started showing up for food, and at first I thought it was a male, but then it started to get mysteriously fat and oddly shaped. Yep. Preggers. I tried to get her in to be spayed, but because of the lockdown, there were no elective surgeries.

Meanwhile, my #2 cat was extremely sick on Erev Yom Kippur. She needed emergency surgery because she had an intestinal blockage. With the holiday and the lockdown restrictions, she got her surgery at the clinic, but my living room was converted into a cat hospital. I had to give her injections and keep her hydrated via IV. Turned out she had eaten a hazelnut. Where she got it I’ll never know! (She’s doing great, by the way!)

Two weeks later – 10.10.2020 – the first kitten popped out. After the shock of the first one, Mama Cat (I named her Ralph because she kept throwing up during her pregnancy) suddenly knew exactly what to do. I had already set up a nest for her and the other three were welcomed into the world over the next two hours.

Mama Cat Ralph took fantastic care of them and let me help sometimes. The three females have been adopted. The single male may not find his way into an advertisement via Facebook – we’ll see how things go.

I was surprised to find that my visitor numbers here for 2020 were higher than ever even though I haven’t put up new content for 6 months.

I’d like to get back to writing on the blog, but there’s not much new happening in Israel right now. We are currently in a semi-lockdown and are looking toward elections in March. We had an election in a semi-lockdown already, so that’s not new. One good thing is the new statistic that we can see here in Israel related to COVID-19.

SOURCE – This is a screengrab from the homepage of the Times of Israel.

Vaccinations! It should be noted that this reflects first dosages of a 2-dose vaccination, but it’s an amazing start. The best part is that it’s more than double the number of cases we’ve had here in Israel.

In looking back over 2020, I’m grateful that I had work that I could do from home. I’m grateful that I had internet to keep me connected to the world and to keep me entertained when I wanted to drop into a series and forget about all the craziness. I’m grateful for the green space that I have access to around me; I’m not sure lockdown would be as easy for me if I didn’t.

I’ve probably embraced my introvert (anti-social?) tendencies a bit too much this past year. Maybe I’ll work on that. I’ve definitely embracing lounging around and my waistline (and every other line) have reflected that. I will commit to shortening the lines and lowering the number on the scale.

May we all have good health in 2021!
May we all count our blessings and heal our wounds!
May we have the strength and patience to carry our burdens!
And may 2021 be better for all of us!

Same action, same result

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Misattributed to Albert Einstein (actually from a mystery novel…)

If you watch the news – or even just glance at the headlines – you might think the whole world is on fire. Not to diminish the problems of the world, I can tell you that it’s a quiet Shabbat in my neighborhood. It’s calm and still. And hot! I may have to make some iced tea – but I digress. Solutions to the world’s problems are not going to be found by doing the same things over and over.

The flu pandemic of 1918 lasted for two years and had four major waves. The Daily Show put out a video this week showing how the US is behaving today much like it did then. And expecting different results? (The longer version is quite illuminating. It’s not a documentary, but makes some interesting points. The humor may not be for everyone.)

Here in Israel, we have protests (violent and nonviolent about a whole spectrum of issues), more coronavirus (sick and dead), a failed opening strategy, economic collapse, a bloated political coalition that can’t pass a budget, and a prime minister accused of corruption.

So what’s the solution? If the budget doesn’t pass within a month, new elections, of course. Fourth time’s the charm?

The recent anti-Semitic hashtag Jewish Privilege is on people’s minds. Social media warriors have taken it over and turned it into a teachable moment.

But where has this kind of anti-Semitism shown up before? How about Madison Square Garden in New York City in February 1939 where 20,000 Americans attended a Nazi rally, said the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag, and sang the “Star Spangled Banner”?

A Night at the Garden – A chilling collection of archival footage.

In the way of coincidences, after I saw The Plot against America and someone shared the video above with me, I found out that the warriors against Nazis in the 1930s in America were none other than Jewish mobsters.

There’s a great article in Tablet Magazine giving the history, but what struck me was the Jewish leadership was timid and publicly disowned their Jewish brethren for doing what they had been asked behind closed doors to do.

“They wanted the Nazis taken care of but were afraid to do the job themselves,” he [Meir Lansky] said. “I did it for them. And when it was over they called me a gangster. No one ever called me a gangster until Rabbi Wise [Stephen Wise] and the Jewish leaders called me that.”

Gangsters vs. Nazis: How the Jewish Mob fought American admirers of the Third Reich

If you’ve read to here, you might be thinking “Ok, she’s lost the plot. What does this have to do with your theme?” Good question! I’m glad you asked!

What finally broke up these Nazi sympathizers? Not the mobsters (although they helped). Not the Jewish community. Not any community. Not the US courts (First Amendment). Not the invasion of Poland in September 1939. Not a raging war in Europe from 1939 to 1941. No, it was that their leadership was caught embezzling funds, and then in December 1941, the US went to war against Nazi Germany (a few days after declaring war on Japan for Pearl Harbor and after Nazi Germany declared war on the US first). [Factoid: 120,000 Japanese, but only 11,000 Germans and 3,000 Italians, were interned in the US during WWII.]

Anti-Semitism will probably (unfortunately) always be around. When times are tough, the Jews are a handy target. In the 1930s, during the Depression, Nazi sympathizers blamed the Jews. At the moment, the anti-Semitism is coming via the Black Lives Matter movement, but it wasn’t so long ago that Tiki-torch-wielding mobs chanted “the Jews will not replace us.” How far are they from a rally featuring George Washington and swastikas?

What we’ve learned is that being timid and trying to blend in with the furniture doesn’t work. Thumping heads has some effect but is kind-of frowned upon. Divisions within the Jewish community are a recipe for disaster. The only thing that has worked so far is the Invisible Hand of History (or the Miraculous Hand of God, take your pick) to tip the flow of events a different direction. But that’s not much of a strategy to defeat anti-Semitism. At least in this case, it seems like we’re ready to try different things.

And so am I.

I’m going on hiatus for a month or two to recharge my creative batteries. What I know for sure is if I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll get the same result.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

Up and Down. And Up Again?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 1, Scene 1

And what will writers say about the summer of 2020? Dickens – paid by the word in his time – could have been writing about a vision he had for 2020. Shakespeare gives us hope by flipping the seasons.

Israel is in a weekend slowdown. We are allowed to leave our homes, but almost nothing is open, except beaches (those close next weekend). The decision was made by politicians at 3am. Doctors have said that this kind of slowdown may not actually be helpful. After being a shining example of how to get the virus under control, Israel is an example of how not to open a country.

The virus affects some like a flu; it kills others. Some have no symptoms at all but carry it on to others who get infected. There is no vaccine, but maybe there are ways to lessen the symptoms with already existing drugs. Some say the virus is real; others say it’s a hoax. Some people wear masks to protect others; some refuse to wear masks to preserve their own freedom.

The internet is a salvation of information and entertainment. But it’s also filled with bad news and threats of hacks. Technology allows us to virtually meet with people around the world. At the same time, it isolates us. Industries that can move to the internet are finding new ways to market and engage. Industries that can’t adapt collapse.

New social realities have brought out the best in people – giving to charity, helping neighbors, being kind. Some internet trolls have found their way into real life and are probably happy to have their ugly behavior filmed.

Shabbat morning brought sounds of mid-morning prayers in the park. But this afternoon is so quiet, I can hear insects buzzing and birds chirping.

What will writers say about 2020? Now is the summer of our discontent made glorious winter by this endless social distancing. It was everything; it was nothing. It was bleak; it was hopeful. It was the end; it was the beginning.

Getting back in balance

TL;DR – Thai massage is good for you!

This is what a disastrous re-opening of the economy looks like. Israel had 1,441 new cases in a day, and as of yesterday, a total of 351 people died.

This is the same graph for Thailand (pop. 69.4 million). FYI, 58 people TOTAL have died in Thailand from coronavirus. They had a small uptick of 14 new cases today.

This week I strained my back and my knowledge of Thai massage principles and acupressure points saved me a lot of pain and aggravation. Based on the graphs, Thai massage and a culture of caring for others helped save the country from coronavirus too.

First contact

My beloved Thai Massage School in Chiang Mai

My first contact with Thai massage was when I was in Thailand taking Thai massage courses. I liked the treatment combination of stretching and pressure, and I could feel the influences of both yoga and Chinese medicine. But I became a true believer when I came down with a stomach virus during my first week of training.

During a practice session, my partner pressed a spot on my foot causing me to run out of the room and throw up my lunch. “This is not how this adventure ends!” And back I went.

The next session was, of course, stomach massage. With my new partner, we modified the massage to deal with my stomach issues. And I was CURED.

UNESCO recognizes the power of Thai massage

Last year, I was very happy to see that UNESCO recognized Thai massage as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. There’s a 9-minute video on the site if you want to know more about it. The legend of Thai massage is that it was invented by Buddha’s physician. It migrated from India to Thailand and picked up some Chinese medicine elements on the way. The Thais simplified it and now have a beautiful national wellness practice.

Back to my back

Thai massage and acupressure is not a miracle cure. It’s not too “woo-woo” for ordinary folk. In short, any kind of massage increases blood flow and more blood circulation will help heal muscles. But Thai massage has the added benefits of increasing energy, bringing on relaxation, and lessening pain.

My pain was probably an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. I tried some stretching, a hot bath, medicinal creams, rest, ibuprofen, and a bit of trigger point therapy. All of these helped the acute issue of back strain and the resulting leg pains. When I was able to move around a bit more freely, I still had pain at times up to 7 or 8 as an ache, not as a result of movement.

Then I remembered I have all these treatment protocols from my Thai massage training. Once the acute issues had subsided somewhat, I could do some of the protocols on myself. It’s not easy!

But I can do as many acupressure protocols as I want whenever I want to do them. Yesterday I did about 4 protocols over 45 minutes and brought my pain down from 7/8 to about 2. In fact, I felt so good I did some light tai chi.

This morning, the pain was about 6.5, and another round of 45 minutes brought it down to 0.75.

I’m not 100% yet, but I think I’m about 85-90% better. I have residual pains here and there from other stuff that Thai massage doesn’t treat (or that I can’t treat myself).

This episode reminded me that I miss practicing Thai massage. Thai massage is almost as good for the practitioner as for the client – a case where it really is as good to give as to receive.

I’m looking forward to getting back to it eventually. But not yet.

A few thoughts about masks

TL;DR – Wear masks!

As a fan of Korean dramas, I noticed a lot of the big stars would wear cloth masks in public. Are they trying not to be noticed?

Screen grab from SOURCE, note that the date is 2019 (not coronatimes)

I also noticed Asian tourists in Israel wearing masks. They aren’t trying to keep a low profile in public.

I found out that in Korea specifically, but also in other Asian countries, the pollution is so bad they include fine dust warnings in their weather reports. People wear masks on particularly bad days. Masks also are a layer of protection against sun damage – the tourists were often wearing big sun hats and UV protective sleeves on their arms. For this post, I also did a little research about mask wearing in Asia and found an article from 2014 about the culture of wearing masks in Asia. In short, if someone is ill, they will wear a mask to protect others. Apparently this has been part of the culture since the flu pandemic of 1918. Today, it’s a fashion statement.


Now we are in the middle of a pandemic that is not getting better. To update the numbers from last week: There are now 11.2 million cases – up 1.2 million since last week. Incidentally, May 27 was the first day there were more than 100,000 new cases and it’s been steadily going up to 200,000+ new cases every day. The death rate remains stable with 29,500 deaths this week putting the world on track to reach another 100,000 deaths within about 3 weeks.

Israel is officially in the second wave. We’ve doubled the new case rate this week with over 1,000 new cases reported in a single day. It’s directly tied to reopening and people ignoring warnings about how to reopen safely.

The best option for people is to not get exposed to the virus by staying home. That’s not a long term solution. So if we have to go out, we need to protect ourselves and others. That means masks.

My office sent this graphic.

A slightly more colorful comparison was making its way around Facebook.

Masks = Healthy society

I’ve been horrified by the public meltdowns in the US over wearing masks. I can’t understand how a matter of public health became a question of freedom.

I think one good example is smoking. A person is free to smoke as much as they want. That’s a choice they’ve made. Now that science has proven that second-hand smoke causes cancer and puts children in smoking households at a higher risk for respiratory illnesses like asthma, smokers may not like that they can no longer smoke in bars and other public places, but they tend to agree that they don’t have a right to blow smoke into people’s faces and potentially cause cancer or respiratory distress in other people.

What about speed limits and seatbelt laws? They are government-imposed laws for public safety. No one (that I know of) has tried to avoid paying the fines because they have a god-given right to pass other drivers like they’re standing still and smash through their own windshield when they slam on the breaks.

Now compound the danger by making smoking and bad driving contagious.

Yes, masks are uncomfortable. But surgeons and dentists haven’t thrown out sterilization procedures because they are uncomfortable. Coronavirus is also uncomfortable. Many of those who “recover” suffer as much as when they were sick and can’t return to normal life. That’s pretty uncomfortable. If an asymptomatic carrier turns into a super-spreader and people end up hospitalized or dead because they were near that person, that’s not comfortable for anyone.

Your freedom ends at my personal space. Wear a mask.

Corona Corner

With everything else in the news, you might have forgotten that there was a virus. I didn’t. I’ve been wearing my mask in public and socially distancing all the time. I think twice before taking a bus and use alcohol gel after each trip.

Israel is trying desperately to get back to normal with mixed results. Hundreds of new confirmed corona cases are showing up every day, but deaths remain in the single digits. Is this the dreaded “second wave”? Probably not; it’s just people thinking they don’t need to take precautions. The government doesn’t want to shut down the whole nation again, so they are enforcing targeted lockdowns.

Big-picture view

One statistic I followed – and I haven’t seen reported – is the time it takes to reach 100,000 deaths globally.
It took 77 days to reach the first 100,000 deaths (January 23-April 9).
It took 14 days for the next 100,000 (April 10-April 24).
It took 19 days for the next 100,000 (April 25-May 14).
It took 22 days for the next 100,000 (May 15-June 6).
We’re just about to reach the next 100,000 (probably today, June 27) and that took 21 days.
It seems to me that since April 25, the global death toll has been stable. If one country starts to lessen their death toll, another one steps up to take its place.

Is the US doing as badly as reported?

The big headline in the past few days has been Americans will not be allowed in EU countries because of their poor handling of the coronavirus. What’s left out of the headline is that the US is not targeted and is one of a number of countries (including Israel) that will not be allowed in the EU yet.

I’ve felt that perhaps the reporting on the US handling of the coronavirus has been a little bit skewed. The US has 50 states and 330 million people; it’s the third largest country in the world in terms of population. So I combined the 6 countries in Europe with the highest death rates (UK, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany) and found their total population is 335 million. Altogether, those 6 countries have 155,000 deaths (133 days) to the US’s 127,000 (119 days) (both numbers rounded as of this writing).

Brazil has the second most confirmed cases in the world (half of what the US has) and about two-thirds the population of the US. Since May 27, it averages about 1,000 deaths every day. From the first deaths on March 22, Brazil reached 56,000 deaths (rounded as of this writing) in 97 days.

For a closer-to-home comparison: Mexico has one-third the population of the US and 26,000 dead (85 days) with hundreds dying every day; Canada has 38 million people and 8,500 deaths (103 days) with not even dozens dying every day. Americans are allowed to travel to Mexico, but as yet are not allowed to travel to Canada.

Another statistic is that there are 10 million confirmed cases in the world and 2.5 million are in the US. Of the nearly 500,000 deaths, 127,000 are in the US. The US, a single country, represents 25% of both numbers. No other single country comes close.

Is the US doing badly? It depends.

Europe has many countries and many governments. Their policies are not entirely coordinated under the EU umbrella. Some countries do better. Some do worse – like the UK’s failed “herd immunity” policy and Sweden’s “just be responsible citizens” policy. In the US, some states are doing really well (Wyoming) and others are struggling (New York). It could be said that Europe and the US are sort of equal in numerical terms.

In general, the daily coronavirus death toll in the US is going down (see the daily deaths graph and the CDC’s excess death rate – the spike in 2018 was the flu). But it would be a stretch to say that the downward trend was a result of compassionate, logical, serious, unified leadership at the federal level.


Is the US leading the world with a unified message on coronavirus? No. Once the US president was seen as someone who would bring nations together to solve global problems. The current president is not a voice of leadership for this global pandemic, and so, on the world stage, yes, the US is probably doing as badly as reported.

Just a Little Justice

Justice, Justice shall you pursue . . .

. . .צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף

Deuteronomy 16:20

This verse from the Bible is translated many different ways, but I think this one is the most literal. Some translate it as “Righteousness, righteousness, shall you follow . . .” and some go with “Equity, equity, you are to pursue . . .” (I’m not a fan of this one).

Following my last post about Hebrew roots and given everything that is going on the world right now, I’m moved to write about the root צדק – tzedek.

Tzedek is generally understood as justice. From this root, we also have tzedakah meaning charity. A righteous person is called a tzadik.

You might notice that none of these three is strictly tied to the law. But they all relate to doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

How do we know what is right?

Most religions and philosophies have some version of the most basic principle.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Or the opposite: “What is hateful to you, do not do to others.”

Another version is: “What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself.”

Whether it’s about wearing a mask to protect others from coronavirus or acknowledging that we have inequality in society or acting against police brutality, we can all take a moment to consider the effect of our actions on others.

An interesting addition to the discussion of the root tzedek is that when you make it reflexive (the action of the verb is done to the speaker), it means “to apologize.” Merriam-Webster notes that to apologize more often means to excuse or defend, not acknowledge a fault. And here we clearly see a link to justifying one’s actions through the root tzedek.

I guess the real question we need to ask ourselves is: when we look inward, can we justify our actions to ourselves and others by showing that we are doing the right thing? Are we pursuing justice and righteousness?

Ears of Philosophy

Hebrew as a language is organized around roots. Many words can be built on a single root and often the words seem to be philosophically connected.

There is a Torah Portion called Ha’azinu. It’s usually translated as “Give ear” or “Listen.” Listening is more involved than simply hearing. You may hear* something, but are you really listening?

The Hebrew word for ear is: אוזן (ozen).

The verb from that root is להאזין (l’ha’azin). It’s more common today to use להקשיב (l’hakshiv) to say to listen, but l’hakshiv includes a nuance of pay attention and obey.

The Hebrew word for scales is מאזניים (moznayim). Specifically scales like in the sign for Libra, balancing scales.

The Hebrew word for balance (like on the above-mentioned scales) is מאוזן (me’uzan).

Long before science told us that the intricate inner ear contains the mechanism to regulate balance in human beings, ears were somehow connected to balancing.

The world is totally unbalanced right now, and it has a lot to do with an inability to listen. Everyone is stuck in their algorithm-curated social media echo chambers.

If we want to move our world to a better place and find balance, we need to give ear; we need to listen.

Listen: to hear something with thoughtful attentiongive consideration.

“Listen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary

It’s hard to listen to something or someone you don’t agree with. It’s hard to listen to stories and incidents that make you uncomfortable. The bigger the divisions, the harder it’s going to be.

And we’ll conclude with the Greeks.

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.


*I don’t know if hear in English is in any way related to ear. But if it is, does it mean that in English ears are only for hearing, but not truly listening?

From Avengers to Talmud

Remember Avengers: Infinity War? We all knew that Thanos was the “villain” because he was gathering Infinity Stones to fit into a gauntlet that would allow him to snap his fingers and eliminate half the population of the universe (randomly chosen lest he be unfair). This was to save the universe because overpopulation was ruining everything for everyone. He would bring balance, and it would be a good and plentiful universe for everyone who was left. I used quotation marks because there are a few who think #ThanosWasRight.

This is fantasy and fiction so the stakes would have to be massive. Half the population? Is it really a “lesser evil” for a “greater good”?

What about Typhoid Mary? She was an Irish immigrant to America in the late 1800s. She just wanted to make a living as a cook, and she seemed healthy. Turns out she was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid. Once she found out, she worked as a laundress, but made a lot less money. Then she was injured. She changed her name and went back to work as a cook. Illness followed wherever she went, and she kept changing her name and working for other families. They confirmed three deaths, but it was never known if that was the total (insufficient contact tracing). Was she evil? I doubt it.

After her second arrest, she was kept in quarantine for 23 years and died of pneumonia. All she wanted was to make a good living and do what she enjoyed. Unfortunately, it made people ill and some died.

COVID-19 is definitely not going to take out half the world’s population. It won’t take out even 0.01%. In a fictional story, these stakes would not be high enough. In real life, the stakes are gigantic when it’s your parent, your sibling, or any other member of your family.

The percent of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 is unknown. I tried to look it up and saw numbers varying from 20% to 80% of those that have been tested. I’m sticking with unknown because if a person isn’t sick, he or she is unlikely to get tested unless required to do so.

So you’re “healthy.” Everyone you know is “healthy.” You just want to get back to normal. There are certainly dangers to economic shutdown. And, hey, isn’t it (meaning: some people dying) just a “lesser evil” for a “greater good”? People die all the time, so what’s a few more? Especially since a lot of the people dying are old and often have other conditions.

That argument would never work in Israel. Many old people in this country are Holocaust survivors. No person, no matter their political party, would ever think that it could ever be acceptable to value the economy over human life and build business on the bones of people who survived genocide.

Israelis desperately want to get back to normal. But will they sacrifice their elders? No.

This week Israel was pretty much open. You can sit in restaurants and cafes. Stores are open. But we had a spike in new cases (89 and the next day 121) at a couple of high schools. Teachers and students are being tested and put in quarantine. The Health Department specifically asked children not to visit their grandparents.

Israel doesn’t have a magic number of infections or deaths that are deemed acceptable (that I know of). Regardless of the inadequacy of our government (a post for another day perhaps), allowing preventable deaths due to an infectious disease is simply not part of the equation. Asymptomatic carriers cannot be allowed to become superspreaders, and in no version of Israel is the first choice to follow Thanos’s logic.

“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”

Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a)

Random Observations

The new world we live in is weird. Starting with the weather.


Traffic has been light in general, but it’s started to pick up as more places open. I rode a bus twice this week. I was on a double-length bus and there were only 6 passengers on it during “rush hour.” The next day I was on a regular bus during “rush hour” and was a little surprised to see 12 passengers. Passengers are not allowed to enter the bus through the front door or to sit in the seats near the driver.

Kids were back at school, but a  teacher tested positive for COVID-19, so they isolated the teachers and the kids and closed that school for two weeks.

An Israeli moment: A religious girl, probably about 10 years old and dressed in a school uniform of a long skirt and a long-sleeve button-down shirt, was in charge of getting her two younger sisters (twins, I think) to school by bus. The older one was wearing a mask and the younger ones, probably about 5 or 6, weren’t masked. It’s not uncommon for older siblings, even at this age, to be in charge of their younger siblings. But now it involves being responsible enough to properly wear a mask in public at such a young age.

I’d been hearing Shabbat services in the park for the past few Fridays. Now that synagogues are open again, I found that I missed hearing the singing yesterday.

Most mornings on my way to the office, I saw a group of men wearing prayer shawls walking home after holding morning services on a street corner. I’ve kind of missed seeing them lately as well.

People are out and about. They are lax about wearing masks over both their mouths and noses – the underside of people’s chins seem to be overly protected by masks though.

Friday was Jerusalem Day. Usually there’s a parade and a lot of celebrations. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. It was barely a blip this year for me.

Next week, restaurants will open for seated customers (take-away was always available), and we’ll have to see how things go. Will new cases spike or has the virus played itself out for now? Based on the virus genome structure, they found that 70% of Israel’s cases came from the US and the virus was spread by a small number people. Weirdly, that means it wasn’t from ordinary tourists, but people who come to Israel and have a lot of interaction with Israeli citizens. What does that mean for tourism (a huge industry for Jerusalem)? It’s anyone’s guess.

The strangeness of the new normal will eventually fade, and the new normal will just be normal. We’ll all wonder how we ever got along without a supply of surgical masks and disposable gloves at home. I mean, you’ve been using alcohol-based hand sanitizer for ages already, right?