Jun 8, 2020  By Devin Taylor  Category: Education,

Virtual Shabbats during lockdown turn strangers into family

About two or three weeks after JNFuture started holding virtual Shabbats during the coronavirus lockdown, I decided to see what they were about. I was apprehensive at first, because I get social anxiety and was sure I wasn’t going to know anyone on the calls. What could I possibly get out of something like this?

Well, I was right. I barely knew anyone on the calls. Sure, I’d met some of the people before, but I didn’t KNOW them. I don’t think I even said anything at all during my first virtual Shabbat, except for maybe a hello. But I still made the commitment to come back for the next Shabbat, because I was lonely and told myself a Shabbat with near strangers is better than a shabbat alone. 

And I am eternally grateful I kept coming back, week after week, because spending Shabbat with this group is always my highlight. To JNF, my gratitude is unbounded, because I’ve had a sense of community I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve been given the chance to make so many new friends across the country -- had life been “normal,” that wouldn’t have happened.

We, who give so much of our very beings to Israel through our donations and volunteering with JNF, have been outmatched in that giving by JNF itself. My sorority has an open motto that says “to receive much, you must give much,” and I fully believe that applies to this situation. JNF has given me something greater than I could have ever dreamed of by being there for me with virtual Shabbats when I needed them most.

Devin is a proud JNFuture Chicago donor. She lives in Urbana, Ill., and went to Israel on the 2019 JNF Young professional mission.

To find out more information about JNF-USA's virtual events, please click here