By Susan Lesh
We just held our first public platform via Zoom meeting on Sunday, March 22. It was fantastic to see so many members’ faces and be able to hear their comments. We recorded the platform, “The Enduring Relevance of Ethical Culture in This Time of Crisis,” and it’s shared on our Facebook page. I feel enthusiastic that we will be able to feel our social support-network grow and strengthen the mutual loving, compassionate bonds we have for each other. During the platform, member Lenny Goldstein suggested that we change the term “social distancing” to “physical distancing” because we were becoming closer “socially.” That rang true for me and I will begin to use that term when describing our new world.
So how did we get here? Events in the world and in our town of Teaneck were moving quickly in March with the spread of the coronavirus; Teaneck was an epicenter. The decision about closing Ethical was made by the Board of Trustees. This was a very difficult decision, although in hindsight it was clearly the only one that could be made. We had a dilemma: How to close Ethical to make sure we all were safe, yet find a way to allow us to continue to feel community and therefore prevent social isolation?
In the middle of these decisions, David’s cold symptoms worsened when he developed a fever and had some shortness of breath. We spent a very uncomfortable evening in the ER and he finally received a diagnosis of flu. Thankfully, he’s recovered by now and that anxious time seems behind us.
Teamwork takes us online
Meanwhile, a group of Ethical members were trying out technologies that might be used to present our platforms. A huge shout-out goes to members Dwight Panozzo, Terri Karp, Ken Karp, Rachel Ferat, and Dan Ferat, who quickly moved into action to experiment with Zoom. They held a Zoom platform on Sunday, March 15, with a Community Circle format, and identified some pitfalls as well as some excellent features, which we are putting into place as we move forward. Their work enabled us to present this successful platform on March 22 and will enable more in the weeks to follow.
We are now holding meetings, programs, and events online, mostly through Zoom. Our “Zoom Squad” is available to help you with your technology to get connected. Please let Lisa Schwartz or Terri Karp know if you would like some help. You will find listings of our programs and events, as well as how to participate, in April’s Focus newsletter (see Pages 2 and 6), as well as on our Web site’s calendar. Our Communications and Adult Education teams are also posting to our Facebook events listings and to our Meetup listings.
Reaching out will help
Back to the March 22 platform: Joe mentioned that we have an ethical imperative to think beyond ourselves, to engage with our community. I know that even if I feel like curling up into a ball and pulling the covers over my head, it will not help me. Reaching out to others, by phone, by smile when walking down the street, by attending programs virtually … these actions will help me.
And so I leave you today: Stay safe and stay well, remember to reach out to members in our community and your neighborhood, practicing “physical distancing” to become socially closer together. See you soon, virtually.
Susan Lesh is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.