These are challenging times. We are all in the trenches of something that we’ve never ever seen the likes of. And so many things are happening at the same time, things moving so quickly, that it’s hard to keep up. Here in Israel, we’ve experienced a hurricane with unprecedented winds that knocked down trees and caused power outages. It looked like the world was coming to an end. But that was last week. Old news. And, of course, it goes without saying that we have the usual politics here. My kids have begged me to stop listening to the news in the hopes that I will stop screaming. But nothing is on the minds of people anywhere nearly as much as the coronavirus. Luckily, the powers that be in this country took the threat very seriously immediately. But it took time for that awareness to filter down to the rest of us regular people. But we are catching up. And fast.

My family likes to travel. We love basking in the beauty of breathtaking scenery, as well as meeting frum Jews wherever we can find them. It’s an expensive hobby, so we try to keep costs down where we can. We book the cheapest flights possible, often with one or more stopovers, and we happily volunteer to be bumped from our flights when our schedules permit. We don’t order seats, and we take a minimal amount of baggage so as not to incur additional fees. Our accommodations are not usually of the highest standards, and our family subsists mainly on peanut butter and tuna sandwiches. We view ourselves as simple people with a strong desire to broaden ourselves and see the world.

 When I got married, I didn’t have a whole lot of kitchen experience. As a matter of fact, when I was a child, I believed that when girls got married, they would wake up the next morning and magically know how to cook. Well, alas! Such is not the case.

I’m trying. Really! I am! But it is difficult for me. My father was the gadget king. He bought every new technological piece of equipment as soon as it hit the market, especially when it came to recording devices, which he used to tape (record in old jargon) every shiur ever given. He figured out how to use them with ease and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of tinkering with them. I did not inherit this gene, not even recessively. I would call myself technologically challenged. I’m always trying to keep up, but since this doesn’t come to me naturally, by the time I get it, all that I’ve learned becomes outdated. I understand that along with progress comes improved efficiency, but that’s only when things work as they should and one understands how they work, which I often don’t. Children seem to be born with this knowledge, and I imagine the day when newborns will be able to request full service from their mothers with the swipe of a finger. They will be able to place orders with Amazon in utero, with free shipping for waterproof products costing over $50. Even though I am challenged, I continue to persevere.

 I love music. I mean I love music. There is usually one song or another playing in my head at all hours of the day. I will hear a song and it will stick in my head until the next song comes along and replaces it. I’d be a winning contestant on Name That Tune, as I am able to identify songs I’m familiar with just by hearing a few short notes.

 Time and time again, I am amazed at the disparity of knowledge that I find among the non-observant Israelis I meet. At one end of the spectrum, there are the cab drivers who are as familiar with Tanach as the back of their hand, and can quote from it with the ease of a rosh yeshivah. At the other end of the spectrum, unfortunately, there are Israelis who have never in their lives been to the Kosel, celebrate Christmas, and don’t even know how to say Sh’ma.