Bryan Gindoff: A Silver Lining

My wife, Verna, converted to Judaism this year and that has been hugely important to my own practice of Judaism. But Covid (with Zoom) is running a close second. A classic in the genre of every cloud having a silver lining. Covid has propelled us into celebrating online Shabbats with family and friends, thus widening our circle of observance dramatically. Covid has, without a doubt, had a perversely positive effect in making Torah study, Shabbat services and conversations with extraordinary scholars like Aviva Zornberg, something that we can easily participate in from the comfort of our living room. I am deeply grateful to all who have made that possible.

I think that someday soon, in a post-vaccination world, I will look back on the year of Covid as a time in which Judaism infused my life in a far deeper and more meaningful way than had ever been the case before. As someone who has a deep appreciation for the irony in life, I struggle with the absurd reality that for me Covid has been really beneficial to my relationship with my religion. And, for that matter, has truly deepened my relationship with my wife, and with my family, as we have shared our Jewish lives in Zoomspace.

Which leaves me feeling seriously guilty, a very Jewish trait that is easily triggered to use a contemporary word I’m not very fond of. I ask myself – How can I be feeling really happy about how good Covid has been for my Jewish life while it has wreaked such devastation on the lives of millions and millions of people in America and around the world?

There is no good answer to that question. It is a profoundly unfair reality. Which leaves me feeling very thankful for the simple fact that my wife and I, and our whole family, have so far been able to avoid that devastation while benefitting in the building of our religious souls. I cannot resist the shopworn bromide that God works in mysterious ways. And it leaves me wanting to do what I can to help others in these difficult times – some small testament of my profound gratitude for my own good fortune.

I honestly believe that Covid has made me a better Jew. Go figure.

Bryan Gindoff: I was born and raised in LA. My family was amongst the earlier Jews to come west, settling there shortly after the turn of the century. I spent thirty years working in the motion picture business as a writer and producer before happily retiring to Carpinteria eight years ago. I love it here and it’s been wonderful to discover that Santa Barbara is home to such a vibrant Jewish community.