Living in NYC during the Corona Virus

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WQXR also joined the 7 pm tradition of making noise and clapping hands all around the country. I join my friends From,

across the street, Vered Leib, Ellen Paul Zimet, Barbara Knight. We go out every night to the fire escape, our metal terrace, with our bells, pots, and pans. We call it our Bravo exercise that takes us out for some air.

As the founder, executive and creative director of a 30-year-old not for profit organization CITYarts, I continue to work on our public art projects from home on the computer and phone to prepare for the Summer when Youth will be on Vacation and will need to be occupied with something creative to do so they won’t get involved in trouble on the streets.

Unfortunately, we had to furlough our full-time staff employees, on March 22nd so I have to work with our board and volunteers, Preparing for life after Corona. So I have plenty to do…Unlike some people that say we go crazy with nothing to do…

In the meanwhile, we continue with CITYarts Young minds build bridges program through which CITYarts invited Youth around the world to contribute a Piece for Peace. to continue to build on our collaboration with more than a 100 countries. We strongly believe in Thinking Globally and Acting Locally. So appropriate to this pandemic surreal situation. Here’s a link to Facebook and website.

I find time to connect with friends, having a drink virtually around 6 pm. Moments of delight that I try to plan in advance and keep doing… Marou my Greek friend who lives for a few months in Hudson, upstate NY is very disappointed in the easy-going atmosphere that some of her neighbors adopted. She’s seeing them having dinners in the hotel across the street as if life goes on as usual. For her, especially since she’s asthmatic, it’s a very scary sight.

Zoom became a hit! Virtual celebrations seeing more than just 2 people.

Our friends Lesley & Even Heller escaped NY to Connecticut to be closer in nature and be able to walk around with ease. Her Dayan’s boyfriend who arrived for Passover Seder to visit them has to be Quarantined for 14 days in a house next door, so they did Seder on Zoom.

So did the architect Alex Gorlin who attended two seders. The first one with Rosalee and Dakota Jackson and the second seder with Dan Nir and Jill Braunfman, the head of -Achim L’Chaim, Brothers for Life.

Alex said” It was a surprisingly pleasant experience and guests from South Africa joined. It shows how friends, family, and Jews from the Diaspora can connect globally through new technologies.”

What do we talk about? The range of conversations is amazing. And what a change, we finally have time to have a conversation!

Before Corona, we talked in sound bites. We were too busy to catch up and we never Been able to catch up…

Constantly missing each other on the phone, meetings or simply socializing had to be rescheduled a few times, my calendar had a few events every night and during the day, back to back meetings.

Life was spinning out of control… Did Corona happened to slow us down??? This is one of the topics we dare to discuss. Almost feeling guilty that I enjoy waking up at 7 am and not run out the door for an early 8 am breakfast meeting. I remember attending a panel conversation in February, during the Art Show fair. A few gallery owners with art educators and art historians were complaining about the speed the art world is going. The art dealer Sean Kelly said, ” We feel as if we’re in an arms race,  we need to slow down…” I did contact Sean lately and kiddingly asked if it slow enough for him? he said: “No, I didn’t want this kind of slow down…”

This day’s dinners became an exciting part of the day to look forward to, through the day. Talking about the variety of videos texts and ideas that are being sent from friends and new followers on Facebook, Instagram, tweet, LinkedIn, Whatsup and much more. Tech communications are taking over our lives but at the same time such a pleasure to share funny videos that are circulating the world. I received the same video on art from Yung in south Korea and Yona in Israel.

 Zigi built an Aluminum Taboon to be able to have a barbecue in the city ( watching it carefully). Fun time with the family, everyone is preparing a part of the dinner. Every night we watch a movie after the news. Choosing a movie without violence is almost mission impossible. Hopefully, this pandemic will inspire filmmakers to tell meaningful imaginative stories that lift us up.

Playing board games isn’t as popular as I hoped it’ll be, but we’re still taking it into consideration.

When we go out, the preparation is a chore on its own. We’re covered up with glasses, masks, hats, and gloves. Returning home, we’re taking washing hands and social distancing very seriously.

Stories of good deeds come up constantly. Gives us hope and a renewed belief in the human race. to mention just a few.

My friend Dr. Miriam Adelson told me about the initiative of helping farmers in Israel with volunteers, who pick fruits and vegetables, through Hashomer haHadash, connecting through the SunDo app, which she supports financially. It has been so successful that they’ll be helping us do it in NY state.

Our neighbors Sylvia Cedeno and her husband artist, Bill Albertini, created in their SoHo loft a protective face covering with plastic glasses on a 3D printer.

Asher Katz, who’s the representative of One Heart organization, at the Safra community center, provides meals and any other help needed for senior citizens and the poor people in NYC.

My friend, the film director, Barbara Kopple, who was invited to show her film desert storm, in the Jerusalem film festival in July, was postponed, for now, tells me about her son Dr. Nick Kopple, who treats COVID -19. patients. As he walks from his apartment to Mount Sinai hospital and back he says people are clapping hands and saying thanks.

So is our friend, the cardiologist Rony Shimony, who finds time to ask how we’re doing.

We received some masks from our friend Charlie Hollander, who stayed in Israel for the period of the pandemic. We’re giving them out to friends, neighbors, all the doormen in my office building and people in the public service including our Trader Joe’s favorite food store. They keep the shelves constantly full and the store very clean. Older people are always allowed to come in without standing on the long line. They let in only about 5 people at a time and you’re the only one that is touching your food.

The streets of NY, the city that never sleeps, are practically empty like never ever seen before. Very eerie quiet in the air…Even during 9/11, SoHo was in the war Zone although terribly smelly  & smoky, was much more friendly…

Unfortunately, some stores,  Louis Vitton, Sephora, Dior & Dolce Gabbana, in Soho neighborhood bored their windows, stores with plywood.

What a gloomy site for us the residents who go out for picking up necessary stuff or simply for a little fresh air.

They’ll come because of these stores who don’t care about the community they only care about making money in a neighborhood that hard-working artists created from dark streets to an Iconic place.

It sends a message of, and quite frankly, an invitation for chaos, making the people of our neighborhood a target for looting and danger…

On the other hand, stores like Morgan Le Fay and SoHo wine, who started their business in SoHo in the ’70s, left a nice note on their door-we’ll be back… and their window displays visible like always.

We’re all bracing for this Surreal Storm to pass. Looking inward for hope in the midst of darkness. Basing in the stories of animals and the natural world around us getting a dose of healthy peaceful time to rejuvenate. And, in the meantime, we must keep our sense of humor, innovative ideas and plan for the future after Corona. Believing in the creative power of art to help us get through it. As Picasso said; Art is a lie that helps us see the truth.

Since we’re celebrating Passover, asking questions is definitely appropriate. The big questions, In the New Normal, will it change the way we’ll live our lives? appreciate or behave with each other? I discussed these questions with many friends including Shula Bahat who sent me a recording from Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan. He talks about, what will happen when this is all over?  How much these times of uncertainty will become a meaningful time, the silver lining, especially for the young people the Bnei Mitsva who’ll hopefully become more appreciative of the Jewish traditions.

He asks “what kind of person each of us will be when we emerge from this social isolation? We had time to think and to reflect deeply to reestablish priorities in our lives. To appreciate the small things that make life worth living”.

Maybe we should start by appreciating what at the age of CoronaTime, became the most treasured need, be able to Breath!!!

With Love from New York

Happy holidays,

Stay Healthy and Hopeful,

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