Our say

Looking back

After more than 765 million cases worldwide and seven million deaths, the World Health Organisation has declared that the global COVID-19 emergency is over.

With life seemingly back to normal, in many ways the days of the pandemic’s height are like a distant, surreal memory. It’s easy to forget the rolling lockdowns in Victoria or tuning in daily for former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s 11am case numbers press conference.

There was the home schooling, the yom tovs spent apart from loved ones and not being able to visit elderly relatives in aged care facilities. And with both domestic and international travel again now booming, it’s easy to forget that for the better part of two years, we couldn’t go anywhere.

And yet – notwithstanding the fact that while the emergency has been declared over, the pandemic itself has not – it’s impossible to forget the societal effects of COVID-19 because they are still all around us.

We cannot yet know the extent of the mental health effects the pandemic caused, due to a myriad of factors including isolation, anxiety over health, lost employment, financial stress and domestic violence. We don’t yet know how kids who couldn’t attend school for months on end will ultimately be affected.

And for those who have developed “long COVID” or who have experienced vaccine injury, every day brings constant reminders of a time many have moved on from.

But to the silver lining in the cloud. The response of our Jewish communities to the pandemic was exemplary. We came together and looked after one another. Whether donating money or our time as volunteers, we made sure support was available for those who needed it. We did the shopping for those who couldn’t go out or delivered food to their homes. Those falling on hard times were looked after.

As far as communal life was concerned, we adapted. Events went online. Our schools and shules were innovative in the delivery of their programs. For the first time ever, The AJN was produced from journalists’ homes.

We do not know when a similar crisis may hit. But by learning the lessons of the last three years and continuing to look after each other, we can ensure that we get through it.

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