In my head, as I ponder over 2020, I hear Frank Sinatra singing, “It was a really weird year.” How could I not? In our lifetime of experiences, who would have ever thought we would have lived a real-life plague? That happened in the Haggadah in other centuries, NOT the 21st! But it was and is real so how do we place 2020/2021 in the photo albums of our lives? (Actually, the only photos of 2020 I have are on my phone from snapping pictures while on ZOOM with my family!)

While on my daily walks—weather permitting, outdoors, but if weather not permitting, I do a power-walk inside my home, pacing the perimeters of each room for a total of 30 minutes while talking on the phone, makes the time whiz by—Or, I have a talk with G-d during my exercise time (not on the phone) about how things are going. For Him/Her, and for me. Always good to get both perspectives of a situation. I talk and talk and vent and vent but I am sad to say, I get no verbal responses in return. Sometimes, though, I pass (not in my house) a frog or fly and once it started to hail. I ALWAYS take signs as a silent message to think about, act on or run! I ran when it started to hail.

But several days ago, a gigantic spider was in my bathroom, how it got there, I am still plagued! I freaked out, captured it, flushed it. It left me unnerved for a couple of hours when I suddenly realized that day was the anniversary of a special occasion in my life that I shared with someone who gave me life-long blessings. That spider/person appeared to get my attention, as a sign to say, “Remember those blessings.”

So, has anyone else had a talk with G-d lately? I mean a real heart-to-heart?

We know G-d sent the plagues to Pharaoh to reenforce who was in power so the Hebrews could go free. We read and re-read the story at our seder tables every year and we know the ending.

But do we yet know the results to our modern day plague? This is what I talk to G-d about and with more intensity as Passover 2021 approaches. Especially, since my children and I have decided that because only half of us are vaccinated, that we will let this Passover seder pass over us and do our food exchange/Zoom seder. (Each of us makes a dish for all the others, we meet in a park to exchange the foods and serve them at our individual tables and then Zoon. We did this for Thanksgiving and it was special, in spite of the circumstances!)

And since I can’t get an advance to the ending of the most recent plague story, I have to use my imagination and transform those visions into my prayers:

“Please, G-d, let us continue to make good decisions to stay healthy and out of harm’s way.”

“Please, G-d, I pray for my grandchildren to not let this year of isolation be a negative in their future but for them to realize their hard work, personal resilience, perseverance, creativity and dedication to their family and school work.” (Two of them just got into multiple excellent colleges so they have a variety to choose from: Kvelling!)

“Please, G-d, I pray for the healing of the world that brings clarity and compassion as to how we must treat each other and our environment.” (Could this be WHY G-d sent this plague???)

“Thank you, G-d, for the blessings my family has experienced during this pandemic year. I am grateful for their health, their good decision making and that they have gone beyond expectations in their professional and school work.”

Within the confines of being slaves to this pandemic, with so much time on our hands, I’ve realized we have had the opportunity to free ourselves of past emotional plagues with insights to learn about releasing ourselves of what we may have been “stuck” in. I know many people who have pondered on their past and learned a Haggadah-full about themselves: Using difficult circumstances that have resulted in positive outcomes is a blessing!

With this, I say DAYENU! “It would have been enough,” as the song goes and continues with “Being grateful to G-d for all of the gifts we have received and letting our people go.”

From my house to yours, I wish you, and the world, all the good health, healing, love, compassion and justice, with the ability to “let go” of all that has plagued you, and while remembering our blessings, in spite of the difficult times. Have a Happy Passover and inspirational seder!

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Sandra Taradash
As a Baby Boomer Bubbe who still feels 18 but has four grand kids to prove this is the 21st Century, Sandra writes to leave a legacy for the next generations. Her belief that these precious kids need to know their cultural and family's past in order for them to live their best future is all the muse she needs. She has a Master's Degree in Psychology and Cross Cultural studies, has written a family history, personal memoir, has completed her first novel and is working on her second. She spent some of her best times as a national board member to Women of Reform Judaism and president of her Temple's chapter. She also worked for The J, the Jewish newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her Bubbe's journey to America from Russia, with a life of too many losses, is her source for her deep belief and love for Judaism and family. Sandra is proudly Californian born and bred. These days, when Sandra is not writing or spending time with her three children and grandchildren, she is a Home Chef for local families who don't have time to cook healthy, fresh meals. She creates weekly menus for the families to choose from, provides their ingredient list and then goes to the client's home and cooks the various dishes! Stories and food---SO Jewish!

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