Miriam Peretz: To beat coronavirus, stop the hate

Israel Prize winner speaks of the Shabbat she spent alone as country enforces social distancing against the coronavirus.

Nitzan Keidar ,

Miriam Peretz
Miriam Peretz
Hadas Parush/Flash90

Israel Prize Laureate Miriam Peretz posted a tweet with a picture of her Shabbat table with only one plate.

Following the coronavirus epidemic and the Health Ministry's restrictions, the 66-year-old Peretz could not invite her children and grandchildren, nor could she stay with them.

The post received many comments and Peretz told Arutz Sheva that at no point over Shabbat did she feel that she was truly alone.

"We are used to setting the table for many plates and glasses and expanding and enlarging it. We even buy such tables to be as large as possible. I found myself sitting with a white tablecloth with one plate, one cup, one fork," she said.

"It seemed to me that this is not my Shabbat. But I didn't feel lonely. I have children, grandchildren and family. At that moment, I felt responsible for my life and my destiny.

"I am in the highest risk group because I have recurrent lung infections. My children want to protect me. While there were some who wanted to come to me to visit, I did not agree. I told them that if their family unit was strong, I would be stronger," Peretz added.

She described the preparation for Shabbat when she actually cooked for herself. "I made Shabbat with all the delicacies - the fish, the meat and the chicken - and even I put all the buckwheat and the wheat groats. I pampered myself. And when I read during the recitation 'though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death,' I felt I was reading from the heart. It's not out of loneliness. It's a loneliness forced on us temporarily."

"I imagined the full Shabbat table," she said. "If not next week, I'll wait for it. I imagine the Shabbat with all the plates, the noise, the arguments at the table. So on the one hand I was physically alone, but mentally I was not alone. My children and grandchildren thought of me, my friends thought of me. I wasn't alone. One must obey instructions and consecrate life. If to consecrate a life it takes me to sit alone, that's what I will do. After all, I wasn't hungry and far away. I was in my house."

"'We should all strive to keep the instructions. It is not easy for grandparents not to be near grandchildren. Usually you want the Shabbat to be extended, this time I waited for it to leave so I could call and hear everyone's voices. And if I had to go through ten more Shabbats like that? So what? If I can live then I can make a table for 30 and 40 people, I'm ready for that.

Peretz said that the restrictions Israelis face in response to the epidemic should cause them to realize what their true priorities should be.

"People are usually wrapped up in the pursuitd of life. When was the last time parents saw their children when they woke up in the morning? We run, from constraints, to work. When did we see the whole family sitting around the table? We ran after careers and work - and suddenly we're home."

"There is a cell that hurts us - the corona - but there is a cell that is the time to strengthen and that is the family unit. Suddenly the children are seen from morning to morning, in all situations, and the paretns are playing with and educating them. When a family is together all day it is a stress and a test. It can be used to strengthen the relationships with the children, with the spouse and to admit that we are together. What do they tell themselves when they are isolated? They are alone. We need to appreciate this togetherness," explained Peretz.

In her opinion, the coronavirus teaches us new things about ourselves. "A lot of our habits have changed. We've usually spent our lives these days in the malls, buying another pan, another pot, more cutlery. Suddenly it is possible to shrink and save because there is also a floating economic problem. It is a moment of stopping, thinking, being with ourselves and our children. What fun for parents who have kids at home that they can hug and kiss them.”

Peretz also refered to the national dimension of this crisis. "We must not forget that there is also the national cell which is just as important and built from the family cells. The best weapon against the coronavirus is unity."

"I wish that Benny Gantz and the prime minister would sit together. The best weapon is social solidarity. He and I have to change the language. We are all human beings, we all fight the same enemy and want to beat it. Now is the time for a new, optimistic, hopeful, life-saving language. Now this is the heart of the matter. With this language you can fight against the coronavirus. Now is the time for pride. See how the State of Israel is bringing all the young people from all over the world. It is time to say thank you to the cashier who is risking her life, thanks to the bus driver who runs the risk, to the nurses and doctors. A thank you to everyone who guides us, including the prime minister. We need to strengthen them. "

Peretz points out that the criticisms and struggles can be saved for the moments after the crisis. "The body is in weak pressure and it doesn't need to hear reviews right now. Leave the reviews afterwards. We will have time for our civil wars, we are experts in them. Now is a time to be, in our homes. Let's leave the wars aside. The challenge we face is a challenge of survival. So let's wake up, freeze the hatred, expand our hearts and take advantage of the opportunity of this crisis. After all, we will beat the coronavirus and have no doubt about it. We will only win if we are good in this world, both between ourselves and our leaders."



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