Religion as A Form of Constancy During the Coronavirus Pandemic – Aitan Maeir

As we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has changed and continues to change modern-day society. Whether these changes are economic, social, political or of another kind, they are clear changes that are extremely visible and life-changing for many demographics. However, as someone who has an affinity for religion and everything that it represents, specifically Judaism, I have come to the understanding that religion has been the only constant for me during this pandemic. Although I might not be able to go to my normal synagogue to pray and rejoice with other members, the Jewish doctrine and philosophy of religion have not changed as a result of the current pandemic. 

Throughout my daily life, I deal with depression, feelings of not being wanted, and a great lack of self-esteem. There are some aspects of my life that depress me but many aspects that I am extremely grateful for—particularly those that offer constancy. I have come to the understanding that constancy (and with it, predictability) are features that aid me in managing my depression and its various connected consequences. The constancy and therefore, the predictability of certain areas of Judaism allow me to continue my religious life without stopping and reexamining despite various changes during the pandemic. I look forward to meals over the Sabbath at home and the Chabad (a center for Jewish life) here on campus; I also look forward to prayers and other cherished facets of Judaism because they ground me and thrill me, and because I know that they happen regardless of whether or not there is a global pandemic. In this sense, the constancy in religion provides me something to look forward to every week, something that I can rely on. 

I have immense gratitude for the constancy and beauty I find in religion. I believe that my gratitude is encapsulated in an utterance that I state every time I say Hallel (a Jewish prayer said on various holidays and festivities that is a compilation of verses from Psalms). The utterance, “Praise the LORD, for He is good, His steadfast love is eternal” or in Hebrew “הוֹד֣וּ לַיהוָ֣ה כִּי־ט֑וֹב כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ” (Psalms 118:1). In my opinion, I believe that God loves everyone and that no matter what event or circumstance, God’s love is constant. In addition to the doctrine and philosophy being constant, so too for me is God’s love. 

The fact that God’s love, doctrine, and philosophy, which manifest themselves in Judaism, are all constant does not negate the hardships that we continue to endure during this pandemic, rather, I believe that it enhances those hardships. Personally, for me, the constancy in religion has allowed me to focus on other areas of my life that have not been as constant lately. Religion has not “taken a back seat” I have faith that the constancy in my religion will guide me through the vicissitudes that the pandemic has to offer. The constancy of religion is a comfort for me that I do not take for granted and I thank God every day that I have Judaism to comfort me in times of distress, despair, and chaos. 

Throughout this interfaith fellowship, I hope to explore how constancy manifests itself in other global religions. In addition, I desire to explore how that constancy helps us become more adept at dealing with the various changes that are thrown our way in life. 

One question that I want to leave you all, the readers, is: How does constancy in your life help you when you are going through a life-altering circumstance? What in your life gives you constancy? 

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