With Pesach barely a month away, one aspect of the Festival of Freedom is dominating my thoughts in recent days. Dayeinu. It would be enough for us; a popular Seder night responsive song.
A native of Buffalo, a resident of the New York City area for nearly four decades, I have spent the past few months with members of my family in the Houston area.
I traveled South during the pandemic, first getting a few COVID-19 tests – each time testing negative – before getting on an airplane, then getting tested again as soon as I landed (again, negative).
The pandemic was a challenge for everyone.
Then a bigger challenge struck Texas. A “once-in-a-century” (actually, more than once in a century, to be exact) immobilized the Lone Star State last week. Frigid temperatures. Sleet. Freezing snow. All of which led to impassible streets and frozen homes and businesses without water or electrical power or heat. Internet service and cable TV were down.
As a native Buffalonian, this was nothing new. As someone who has experienced typical winter weather in Texas during past visits (frosty by Texas standards, toasty by mine), all of this was a surprise.
It kept reminding me of Dayeinu.
This was my subjective pre-Purim Dayeinu:
If I was isolated with my family, but as an out-of-towner was not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Dayeinu.
If I at last was included on a vaccination list, but had to wait for people higher up on the eligibility list, Dayeinu.
If my mother and I were slated to get our shots on a dark, stormy morning, but could remain in our car, Dayeinu.
If I got my shot but had no adverse reaction, Dayeinu.
If I was staying far away from Houston’s Jewish neighborhoods and kosher-stocked supermarkets, but could find some kosher goodies (with a hechsher I would not normally use) at nearby stores, Dayeinu.
If I sustained myself with the available kosher food, and Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe and his wife Zehava of the TORCH Community Kollel did not offer to pick up some stuff for me at a supermarket in Houston, Dayeinu.
If we could not go shopping (because of pandemic social distancing and closed stores), and we could have food delivered, Dayeinu.
If the water and power in my mother’s apartment were lost early in the ice storm, but we could stay with my sister, who has a generator in her home a mile away, Dayeinu.
If I had to drive back a few times to my mother’s place for some supplies, but the car was not coated with ice and the roads were not perilous, Dayeinu.
If the cable-TV service in my sister’s home was interrupted, but we could hear the news on battery-powered radios, Dayeinu.
If Mom’s apartment was without water, but there was no flooding or burst pipes, as in some neighbors’ apartments, Dayeinu.
If the power eventually returned to Mom’s apartment, but I was without Internet for several days, Dayeinu.
If Mom’s electricity was out for a few days, but nothing inside – especially the hard-to-get kosher food – spoiled, Dayeinu.
If the suspension of services lasted longer than we would have preferred, but in time for us to get our second COVID-19 shots, Dayeinu.
If Mom and I were tested for a week, but we did not face the tribulations that affected millions of people in Texas – freezing temperatures in their homes, long lines to receive scarce food and water, a few dozen people who died during the week – a big Dayeinu. For us, it was a temporary inconvenience.
Mom, who celebrated her 100th birthday a few days before the storm came, emerged with her health intact.
“A lot of people had it a lot worse than we did,” my mother said once we returned to our warm apartment. “We were two of the lucky ones.”
Amen, to that.
Steve Lipman, a resident of Forest Hills, was a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week from 1983 to 2020.