To put it mildly, 2020 has been an interesting year, one that will likely go down in history for trials and tribulations that none of us could have ever imagined.
With no end to the madness in sight, I find myself contemplating the well-known Serenity Prayer, which was written nearly 100 years ago and, more recently, has become popular as a cornerstone of twelve-step programs. The words “G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” are timelier now than ever before as we wake up every morning wondering if our shuls will be allowed to stay open, if our kids will have school and which businesses and institutions will be forced to close indefinitely.
This year has taught every one of us how important it is to make the best of every situation, no matter how difficult it may be, a lesson that we have most definitely learned the hard way.
And yet amid all the craziness, there is so much to be grateful for.
-We should be grateful for the fact that so many people felt comfortable reaching out for help during the pandemic, knowing that they didn’t have to worry about being stigmatized and that reaching out for assistance now could save them from much larger issues later.
-We should be grateful for the dozens of mental health professionals who voluntarily stepped up and answered nearly 3,000 calls from those in crisis during the pandemic. That gratitude should also be extended to Amudim’s dedicated case managers, and the many therapists, and those who went above and beyond the call of duty as they responded to the unprecedented pleas for help as COVID’s devastation went far beyond the physical. Equally deserving of our appreciation are the many lay leaders and donors who went all out to ensure that agencies like Amudim could weather the storm and be a source of support during the crisis.
-We should be grateful to America, a country that welcomed us with open arms and allows us to practice our religion freely. It is important to remember that giving thanks isn’t a concept that is uniquely American - all of us, no matter where we live, have reasons to say thank you every day.
-We should be grateful to the many community organizations, foundations, and government agencies who have been there to offer their support in so many areas. Faced as we have been with poverty and the loss of jobs, homes and worse yet, loved ones, their assistance has been invaluable.
-We should be grateful for the many civil servants who have stepped up and gone the extra mile in recent months, from agencies including the State Department, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the Port Authority, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Consulate General of Israel in New York and so many others who understood the magnitude of the tragedies we have sustained. The painful moments of burying a loved one, medical emergencies, students being able to travel abroad, and numerous other life crises were alleviated through their efforts, the term public service forever redefined by their dedication.
-And yes, we should even be grateful for the lessons of 2020. As we have seen at Amudim over the past six years, those facing mental health challenges feel perpetually lost, something we have all seen during the pandemic, as chaos and fear swirled all around. Having experienced these emotions give us a greater appreciation for people who struggle every day, every hour, every minute and inspires us to do whatever we can to make the world a better place for them.
-We should also be grateful for having learned how to move on to Plan B when life throws you a curveball, skills that we at Amudim ask our clients to put into play on a daily basis. Realizing that while we don’t have the ability to change every circumstance in our lives, we can still seize the opportunity to learn from every one of those experiences is a priceless lesson.
As we sit down with our families on Thanksgiving, albeit in a more limited fashion than usual, we should be awash in an ocean of gratitude as we are reminded once again that no matter what is going on in the world, there are always things to be thankful for, a truth we understand today like never before.
So even amidst the pandemic, we should be grateful.
Zvi Gluck is the CEO of Amudim, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 21 years. For more information go to www.amudim.org.