If you were to have asked me what Zoom was a year ago, I would have said it was the sound my little boys made when they revved up their Matchbook cars and Tonka trucks.
That was last year. Since then, Zoom has become my window into the world of many things, including the different facets of Judaism. I know I’m not alone. I’m not pretending to be an expert – in fact, just the opposite. Every time something doesn’t work quite right, before I panic I try to contact my grandnephew Ross Liftman, the only one who was able to cut to the chase and get me a COVID vaccine appointment when no one else could.
But despite all the glitches and tripping while I carried my computer to another room with better lighting, I wouldn’t give up Zoom for anything.
Unfortunately, one of my trips caused me to fall and drop the computer. Who knew what could or would happen to it? Forget about me. I only had a few bruises. I was more concerned about the machine. It seemed fine at first, that is until I joined my Saturday morning Zoom services at Temple Tiferet Shalom and my face turned into a big blur.
Since my Ross was away, I contacted his sister, my greatniece Caroline, a sophomore at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. Unfortunately, like many other college students, she has been on campus only one semester and almost three on Zoom. I hoped she could fix my problem. After trying all her magic tricks, she asked if I had dropped the computer. Bingo! She was right. And now, as my mother would have said about my MacBook Air, “Gornisht helfen” (Nothing works).
Since the computer was no longer under warranty, I contacted a repairman and explained my problem. I asked if he could fix the camera. His answer was, “How much are you prepared to pay?”
I knew I was in trouble.
Initially, before Zoom, I didn’t even realize my computer had a camera that allowed people to see me. But there is a plus to all this. I could switch the camera so I could see the other participants but they couldn’t see me. So what if my hair is a mess and I look like the wrath of God, no one can tell.
One thing I discovered, however, even with Zoom it’s possible to become overwhelmed when you find yourself going from one program to another.
Several weeks ago, I participated in a funeral service that was held at a cemetery in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. It was a family event and most of us would have been unable to fly down for the funeral because of the pandemic. We even had a chance to speak to the widow to express condolences after the service.
I felt privileged to tell her that her grandson Harrison had given a beautiful eulogy for his grandfather. I kvelled nachas for both of us because Harrison is my grandnephew.
I never thought I would feel pressured online, but I did that day. After that service, I went to a testimonial for a wonderful woman who was part of the Beverly Hospital-Addison Gilbert team.
My last Zoom event that day was a valuable learning experience in Jewish education sponsored by the Lappin Foundation. It turned out to be a long but productive day, more like pre-Zoom days, yet I never left the house.
I’ve even traveled to Tel Aviv on Zoom, visited Cuba and Ireland, and listened to speakers addressing topics I might never have thought about. I was privileged to hear the Jewish astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman who made five trips into space, taking a Torah with him on the last one. What pride I felt with that one.
Actually, I don’t know whether it was pride or envy when I first learned on Zoom the famous Barbie doll was created by a Jewish woman, Ruth Handler, who founded the Mattel Toy Co. with her husband Elliott. The doll, which debuted in 1959, was named for their daughter, Barbara. According to Handler, “Barbie was a symbol of freedom and possibility for young girls and women.”
I’ve been brought to tears through two meditations led by the learned Ariella HaLevi and studied weekly parshas on Zoom with temple members. It’s been a terrific educational year and there is more to come.
So far I haven’t bit the bullet and fixed my camera, or as was suggested, “buy a new computer.” Why should I, not when I can wear what I want, drink a cup of coffee sometimes, sip a glass of wine or even nibble on a nosh during the program. And no one is the wiser.
Furthermore, when I read the advice from a therapist admonishing us to Zoom without a camera, I latched onto her words: “You could get depressed when you see yourself,” she said.
Now I have a great reason not to fix the camera.
Myrna Fearer writes from Danvers.