Life Under Lockdown (Israeli Style)

Wow!!! No-one, but no-one saw this one coming!!! Over two weeks ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu brought us from COVID quarantine to COVID lockdown. We had a 48 hour notice to get things in place before we would not be allowed outside our homes except to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or doctor/clinic/ER. That’s it.

So I quickly donned my COVIDsuit – gloves and mask – and headed to the store to do some last minute shopping for myself and some elderly shut-ins. IMG_9193.jpeg

It was a bit chilly, still, but I don’t usually look like this. I don’t even recognize myself. I decided to see what was open and check out a few grocery stores. So so so surreal to see the always-jam-packed parking lot completely empty! The kupaot at the checkouts were all gloved and masked as well. At the next store, which was also mostly empty, I chatted up the delivery men. It seems most residents of the city are now using the delivery services offered by all the stores to get their goods. There are absolutely no shortages of food (or toilet paper).

The last store I went to (which is now the absolute norm and not the exception) had shoppers lining up with their carts – practicing social distancing. The line at Rami Levi extended down the block. Before  customers were allowed entrance, their temperature would be taken by a masked and gloved manager. An excellent idea. All voters and pharmacies now require everyone to be gloved and masked – and all are offering hand sanitizer. Our Aquagel is in no short supply here . And, unlike in other countries, price gouging is absolutely illegal!!

Everything non-essential is closed. Malls, restaurants, cinemas, synagogues, churches, mosques, all schools, tourist sites – now public places too- national parks, all playgrounds, rec centers. Public transportation has been severely limited. The IDF (armed forces) are now assisting police in patrolling the streets and helping people in need. The country is like a ghost-town, and eerily quiet, as most people have been fairly cooperative in sheltering in place.

Just before lockdown, the Jewish festival of Purim was celebrated. This is one of the most festive holidays on the calendar. Celebrating the triumph of Queen Esther over the wicked Persian Haman and his plot to annihilate all the Jews living in captivity in the Persian Empire, it usually involves costume parties, parades, and much revelry. Not this year. It is customary to give baskets of treat to elder family, friends, teachers, neighbors. So this year, we made up Italian dinner baskets complete with homemade pasta sauce, pasta, salad mix, homemade croutons, Italian dressing (I can make my own dressing now!!! YAY!!!), a baguette, tapenade, meringues, lemon curd and a bottle of wine. We left them on the porch of four of our neighbors who were on a 14-day self quarantine after traveling out-of-country. It was a great way to finally “meet” two of our neighbors…

IMG_9234.jpeg

I must say, I’m busier now than I have been in ages. We harvested the last of the winter veggies from our garden, and cleared and planted the spring crop. Each of our windows has a huge concrete window box, and there are ginormous planter boxes that run the length of our entire upstairs mirpesset (balcony/porch).

27254E56-9273-40ED-A03C-9FC32EEFDED6

IMG_9421IMG_9424

My wonderful daughters, Katie and Liz started a baking challenge. After seeing the breads, croissants, scones, and other delectables on their Instagram accounts, I decided to enter the challenge.

We’ve had movie nights and game nights. From Catan to Scrabble to Barrel of Spongebobs (where DID I get that one??); card games like Set, Spy Fight and Grizzled; and our live-action-Lord of the Rings-based, role-playing with our clan via Zoom. It’s all fun.

But the best part of all is seeing how the world is somehow coming together in unity to help each other through entertainment, education, self-help groups to conquer anxiety, Bible studies, and just to help one another out. I first noticed this by accident scrolling through Facebook posts, when I noticed Cold Play was doing a live concert. Then I read that my friends from LA, Moshav Band would host a Facebook Live/InstagramLive concert. As if this were not great enough, the Jewish Agency put together a wonderful treat: my absolute favorite Israeli artist, Idan Raichel (you MUST listen to the Idan Raichel Project!!!) serenading us from his living room. Since then we’ve sung along with Nefesh Mountain, and Colin Meloy of the Decemberists. (Moshav Band does a live concert every Sunday night. Colin Meloy (@dullandwitlessboy, IGLive) is putting on a live show every Friday. The posts stay up for 24 hours for those that keep Shabbat. On and on – Andrew Bird, Blogoteque, magical band – we’ve seen more concerts in the last week than we have since we left Los Angeles!!! It’s awesome!!!

I’m loving the cooking tutorials on Instagram: tartinebakery and Smittenkitchen, and my newest:mixology with David Lebovitz. I’m having the time of my life here!!!

3FFC88E5-2FCB-4E8C-933F-675B76605B40.jpg

And I’ve saved the best for last. My daughters keep track of way more than I do, and are there to let me know the latest and best. So – my one artist daughter follows Carson Ellis on Instagram. She’s an amazing artist, mom, homeschooler, and gardener/homestead farmer in Portland… who also happens to be married to Colin Meloy of the Decemberists! Big shout!!!! So Carson started a drawing club on Instagram, that has morphed into the #quarantineartclub (with daily challenges) which she sometimes hosts with artist, Wendy MacNaughton #wendymac,who teaches the most wonderful children’ s art class every weekday that I’ve become addicted to. Add to that story telling with #macbarnett and the wonderfully inspirational posts on how to keep children of different ages calm and occupied during lockdown by my incredible daughter, #liz_dunbar, and I’m almost on overload. Plus more art classes with #ronitjoyholtz, a young Israeli/American artist who is going places fast.

While my husband watches the stock market rollercoaster like he used to watch NFL games, and my son (whose trip to Scotland to hike the Highlands has been put on hold) plays computer games, reads, and angsts over his university applications – I’m in class. There’s just so much out there now. It’s a really special time, if you avail yourself to all the goodness out there. Anyway, gotta close this as I have a yoga class in 5 minutes.

Stay well. Keep informed. Feed your soul. Reach out to others – and please, please, please write me and let me know what each one of you are doing out there in “isolation.”