—Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, Director of Meaningful Life

Good Afternoon Jewish Home Manhattan

Friday May 15.

So listen, what’s going on with you? How’s your day? Do you have what you need? How are your spirits holding up? 

These questions matter. Have enough people been asking you them? Have you been asking other folks?

Over the last several weeks I’ve noticed that it can feel harder to feel connected to people with all our masks and coverings. We are more covered up physically that is. But what about in other ways? Of course, it’s keeping us physically safer. We are blessed to have enough PPE and the wisdom to steward it and use it appropriately. 

Yet, we also need to keep track of what armoring up with our protective equipment and keeping our social distance is doing to our connections.

As I’ve been thinking about the challenges to our feelings connected, an old TV jingle has been running through my head. At heart, I’m a child of the 80s, so my reference points sometimes go way back. Remember this one:

Reach out and touch someone 

Back then, when they said “reach out and touch someone” they also didn’t meet physical touch. They meant, call someone over the phone. And in that way the ad suggested you could actually touch their heart. You could show that you are thinking of someone even when you are not close enough to actually touch. Or in our case, when touch itself carries certain risks.

It actually takes more effort to connect this way — through or around a mask or over a phone screen or a zoom meeting to let someone know that you care, that you value them, that you are holding them in your heart even if you can’t touch them with your hands.

So, let us all remind ourselves to take a moment and make some good quality eye contact, to speak clearly enough through your mask, to smile wide enough that it shows on the part of your face that can be seen. 

Even if we’re not able to take one another’s hands or show each other our smiles, we want to be able to convey our love and our care until we can smile and hold hands once again. 

Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)

(written by Ashford and Simpson, performed by Diana Ross)