Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Ok, I'm not trying to be overly dramatic. But over the last few nights, I keep thinking about that scene from The Ten Commandments where the mist rolls in and the first- born children of Egypt are in danger. The corona virus is like that mist, an unseen but deadly force.


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Actually, that Passover scene is a great analogy and visual. So, in all the COVID- craziness, were you able to prepare for Passover? And, how many pounds of matzo did you buy?


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None! I still have a 5-lb box left over from last year. That's the great thing about matzo, it starts out stale.


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True. I wonder if it even has an expiration date. Hopefully, you were able to get everything else you wanted without spending too long in the grocery store.


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It wasn't too bad. It really helped that I started making lists and stocking up on general items a few weeks before the "mad dash" to grocery stores began.


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Given how you have always loved lists, and loading up on sale items, I am not surprised.


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You can laugh at my lists, but when everyone was hunting for toilet paper and basics, I only had to shop for perishables. I used to go to the grocery story every few days, now I only go weekly.


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I probably should not admit this, but over a month ago I ordered toilet paper on Amazon Prime. I thought I bought a family size package, but when it arrived it was a case of family size packages. I am set for a while.


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Well, I probably have enough cream cheese to last us until the Fourth of July. It's not a high demand item, except in this house. And getting a brisket, and everything to go with it, is now a "cooking concept" that I do on a regular basis – making a meal that feeds us for several nights.


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I use that same approach for restaurant take-out. So, did you get horseradish and gefilte fish?


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No. I hate gefilte fish.


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The only way I can eat it is if it is hidden under a mountain of horseradish. But, that is not the point. The horseradish is a bitter herb, and eaten as a reminder of the bitter slavery of Jews in Egypt.


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At the risk of stating the obvious, don't you think there's enough "bitterness" around us with this awful coronavirus. I really don't think a root vegetable is necessary.


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First of all, you can look at the "bitterness" of the current situation, or you can look at all the people pulling together. Yes, there is dread … but there is also hope for a better day. Because, this too shall pass. And, that is the significance of Passover. And Easter. It makes us stop and think of how the past has brought us where we are today. Everyone needs reminders because, unfortunately, it is human nature to forget.


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I'm almost afraid to ask, but as inconceivable as it may seem now, do you think that when this corona crisis passes, people will forget the hardships we're all now facing?


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Totally forget? No. Focus on day-to-day living and moving forward? Yes. Which is not a bad thing, if they learned from this crisis.


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I guess that's why traditions and holidays are so important. They help us to remember pain and suffering. I'll admit that I don't do an elaborate Seder with all the customary foods and don't recite all the prayers, but we do sit down as a family and recognize the significance of Passover.


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What I find amazing, and inspiring, is how many families that cannot come together in person this year are finding new ways to maintain traditions. The use of technology, like Zoom, Face Time, and Google Hangout, means people can "virtually" be together.


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So, you could have a Seder Skype-style?! There's no doubt this is a time of ingenuity.


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A crisis is often when mankind is at its best. Especially as it forces us to think about what is most important. Which is each other. It makes us see that we all have more in common than not. That nothing is more precious than our family, our friends, our lives.


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Yes, but it seems that it comes at a very high cost. The current situation is so grim and the numbers are escalating every day. Isn't there anything we can do? In Biblical times, the Jews were able to mark their doors with the blood from the sacrificial lamb so that death would pass over their house.


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Think about that. They hid in their houses and marked their doors. The stay-in-place orders are basically doing the same thing, except since it applies to all of us, we do not have to mark our doors. If we want to reduce deaths, we have to reduce the spread of COVID- 19. And, it is not only about our families and loved ones. We have to do everything possible so that hospitals will not be pushed beyond their limits and to make sure that urgent medical supplies are available to all those truly in need.


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It sounds so simplistic, but it really is true. Each of us can make a difference, so each of us that can stay home, should stay home. If you have to go out, practice social distancing. Everyone needs to keep washing their hands, using hand sanitizer, and practicing social distance. I wish there was a way to get that message out to everyone!


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Maybe there is, but then you will accuse me of being warm and fuzzy, which is your area of expertise.


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Now you have me curious.


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Call or text the people you love. Make sure they are doing everything they can to stay safe. And, if not, encourage them to do so, and tell them why.


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You're right, that's way too warm and fuzzy, and totally out of character for you.


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Do not worry, this too shall pass.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by Rabbitti for iStock

It’s #GivingTuesday, and although it’s always a good time to think of others, remember all the people who are continuing to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters long after the headlines have been forgotten.

And even though Black believes charitable giving can be “secretive”, she also knows there’s science proving helping others is good for you. (Warning: she likes to recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)

P.S. – Wherever you may choose to donate, beware of potential scammers. So, if in doubt – check them out! (Black likes GuideStar and Charity Navigator.)



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I know today’s Giving Tuesday, but what I always find so amazing is how you treat every day as “Giving Tuesday."


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What makes you say that? I do not donate to an organization or charity every day.


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You’re always so literal. I meant that the spirit of “giving to others”, whether donating or providing support in some way, seems to be part of your daily life.


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I think you are exaggerating.
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Photo courtesy of Red’s eldest daughter, Natasha


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At the risk of asking you a warm and fuzzy question, have you thought about what you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving?


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Yes.


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I should’ve guessed that you’d take the question literally. Could you expand on that a little, or at least give me a hint?
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Photo by htomas for iStock

When Red was a child, toilets represented more than a place to go when, well, you had to go. Much to Black’s amusement, Red saw cleaning them as a reward. (Really! Check out Red's post below.) But neither of us realized that billions of people don’t have access to toilets. And if it weren’t for today being World Toilet Day, we never would have known the magnitude of the associated health and safety issues – or the connection between sanitation and groundwater.

RED: What can I tell you? When I was a kid, one of my all-time favorite things to do was … clean the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And it wasn’t because I was a germophobe or a clean freak. I just loved being able to sit on the floor, using as much Bon Ami (I’ve no idea why I remember the brand) cleaning powder as I wanted. And the best part? All those bubbles!

It kept me entertained for hours. Not to mention, my mom was thrilled because it kept me “contained” and out of her hair. So much so that if I was very good and behaved myself, she might even give me “special permission” to clean the toilet in my parent’s bathroom. Of course, Black, being five years older and understanding the situation, found it all extremely amusing. Even now, decades later, she still gives me grief about it,

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