The Good Things That Happened

By Maya Tripp, Jewish Life & Culture Manager, March 2021

As much as it feels wrong to celebrate anything related to COVID-19, there are many good things that happened in the last year in the Jewish Arts & Culture department, that show that even this cloud has a silver lining. The last public event before COVID moved most of our programs online, was a Purim celebration in the campus lobby last year — the Traditions cart was packed with props for photo ops, Purim songs were sung and a guitar was playing, Beged Kefet Hebrew school kids ate hamentashen, and a professional face painter was hired to make the kids smile and appreciate this holiday of joy. That same evening reality changed, and a new normal, with no public events, was in place.

The beginning was hard — what is the purpose of “community engagement” with no actual meetings, encounters, mingling and face to face? Where is the community, how do we keep it together, and what is our role now?

The first few virtual events were strange. Operating Zoom, seeing everyone in squares, unmuting and forgetting to mute…

We thought it would be just for a short period, but then, when the shelter-in-place order was extended and extended… We learned to enjoy the advantages of the virtual programs. The low barriers of jumping from washing the dishes to a lecture in your living room, the comfort of participating in a watercolor painting class or a Playback acting class from home, the fun of hearing east-coast based authors, or Israeli ones, with an APJCC Los Gatos audience.

To hear from attendees that this year’s Jewbilee was, “The best one they have ever attended!”

To see thousands of views on Facebook Live, more and more collaborations being born, and people choosing to celebrate their holidays together online with us — these are definitely signs that the power of community is stronger than the pandemic.

I hope to see you in our upcoming Israel program for high schoolers, “Broadway: The Great Jewish Way!” event, Los Gatos-Saratoga Camera Club reception, “Kreplach & Dim Sum.:Yes, There Are Jews in China!” event or “Crossing Our Red Sea – the Passover Edition”!

So much to look forward to!