by Adam Silver, CEO Calgary Jewish Federation
(Calgary) – There’s no avoiding it… “winter is coming.” For many of us, those three simple words have come to trigger automatic visions of Game of Thrones, a fantasy series that started as a collection of best-selling books, and later became one of the world’s most popular television shows for almost a decade. Akin to medieval days, the story is chock full of battling families, wild beasts, love, terror, and both fear and aspirations for the future.
There are several interpretations to the constant reference in the series to winter’s arrival, including its application as a motto for one of the northern ruling families in the show (the Starks), who always remain vigilant and on alert because dark periods in time and our lives are unavoidable, and the winter literally brings with it a harshness that one must plan for in order to survive.
However, the ultimate reference to winter relates to the end of days, in which an army of zombie-esque warriors (White Walkers) marches toward regions inhabited by the living. As the living continue to battle, scheme, live, and love amongst themselves, the relentless undead army marches on. The viewer / reader knows that it is only a matter of time before a full on battle will ensue, with only one victor standing in the end.
These days, we apply similar thinking in that we are about to combine our current fears, isolation, and uncertainty related to COVID-19 with the dark, short, and cold days of winter. Science confirms that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is legitimate – feelings of depression, sadness, loneliness, etc. are elevated during the winter months. With our current reality on a collision course with the coming season, many of us will undoubtedly be more challenged than ever before to stay positive, support one another, be hopeful, and be kind.
I have noted in previous POM messages how proud and amazed I am to have observed many acts of empathy and thoughtfulness as the current pandemic unfolded. I have shared how our community agencies continue to come together and how individual leaders and community members give of themselves to improve the lives of others, even more so during these unsettled days. It is incredibly important that we care for ourselves and for others as the physical days grow darker and shorter, and the COVID statistics paint a bleak picture for the coming months. Now is the time to care more, not less, to be kinder and more giving, not less, and to dream for brighter days, not wallow in the coming darkness.
At this time of Chanukah, hope and brightness are key themes. While the Maccabees were certainly brave and effective warriors, they anchored their conviction in their dreams for tomorrow. When the world as they knew it was at risk of total elimination, they found the passion, faith, and resilience to drive them through their darkest days. Ultimately, they repaired the world through their devotion and hard work – to G-d and to one another.
We in Jewish Calgary must do the same. We have collectively worked to support one another, ensure that active Jewish living can endure during this pandemic, and that community can continue to be forged. As the dark winter approaches, we in Alberta also know that our sun shines like no other, that our mountains are majestic, and that on some days our air can seem like the freshest on the planet. I am asking that you all join me in continuing to dream for our community’s bright tomorrow, that you be extra kind to one another, and that you reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Together, WE CAN get through this! Together, WE CAN support one another! Together, WE CAN aim high and succeed!
Chag Chanukah Sameach – Wishing us all a safe and enjoyable winter.
Adam Silver is CEO, of the Calgary Jewish Federation.