By Mel Pearlman

Hope of a better year to come


February 26, 2021

Today marks the one-year anniversary since my wife and I attended our last Jewish social or religious gathering. That event was attending services to hear the reading of Megillat,The Book of Esther, and to enjoy the festivities, food and beverages as we celebrated Purim 5780 at the Orlando Torah Center.

Since that time our Jewish life has been observed and celebrated in marital “solitary confinement.” In fact, our initial isolation felt a little like imprisonment. I actually texted my children in the early days of the pandemic, somewhat tongue in cheek, the following message making light of our predicament, not realizing how long our sentences would be: “Mom and I have been charged for toilet paper hoarding and are under house arrest. We may have no visitors and must remain within the confines of the house unless we are out in the yard for exercise. All we have to break the monotony is use of the heated pool and our newly renovated jacuzzi and light show. In the house we are confined to an endless supply of thousands of movies and TV programming, along with every genre of music. The food service is excellent and frequent with unrestricted access to the refrigerator and kitchen (except when my cell mate is cooking). Only other restriction, if we leave the house during non-curfew hours to obtain emergency supplies, we must wear masks and gloves even though we have no further criminal intent.”

At the time, like most everyone else we anticipated a month or two into this new lifestyle having no inkling of what lay ahead. Our wedding anniversary and my birthday came and went without celebration and our Passover seders were elaborate and formal as usual, but only for the two of us. That did not stop my wife however from serving up great meals and providing all the culinary symbols of the holiday.

We welcomed Elijah into our home and envisioned him wearing a face mask and standing six feet away as he simultaneously drank and refilled the cup of wine traditionally set aside for him at our Seder table.

I felt a little schizophrenic asking the four questions and then having to spend the whole evening answering them myself.

This is not to say it has not been enjoyable being with the wife 24/7 as we navigated through a year of incredible events, not the least of which was the birth of our second granddaughter in May, born thank G-d healthy in NYC in the midst of the pandemic. Of course, not being there for the blessed event was emotionally difficult, especially for my wife and daughter.

Facetime and What’s App allowed us to virtually celebrate birthdays with our children and grandchildren and to be part of their lives on a daily basis to the extent possible.

Shavuot was celebrated at home with lots of ice cream. We each served as the other’s minyon to recite Yizchor and Kaddish for loved ones in memory of those dear to us who had passed away; and observed Yahrzeits as well throughout the year.

Although remaining homebound for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we utilized technology to participate in communal prayer. It was the first time in memory that we were not present in synagogue to hear Kol Nidre, but the many streaming services allowed us to hear beautiful renditions of this ancient prayer.

The sound of the shofar, however did emanate from the Pearlman household during Rosh Hashanah; and was heard loud and clear at the conclusion of the Neilah prayer service on Yom Kippur, signaling the end of the 10 days of repentance and the hope of a better year to come.

As we celebrate Purim, in this period of continuing pandemic, let us strengthen that hope of a better year to come.

If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.

Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.


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