The Quest for Humanity

By Chaya Nessa Krycer, Featured Writer, DOJLife.com

Being in quarantine can bring out unexpected sides of one’s personality. People can uncover who they are deep inside, and their innermost values. I have recently made a discovery along these lines.

You see, whether I liked it or not, I was surrounded by people at nearly any given moment. It was a wonder why I didn’t suffer from claustrophobia. Each day, I’d attend school with fifty other girls, and assorted staff members besides. It became a moment of triumph if you chanced upon a classroom that was empty of the ubiquitous chatter and general commotion. And the ultimate joy of sitting on a couch by yourself. It was a wonder beyond belief. There was no chance to ask myself the dangerous question of whether I actually enjoyed spending time with people or not. All there was to do was to hope for survival until I graduated when I’d commence living full time with one hundred complete strangers in a hopefully not too shabby Israeli seminary building. The pleasures of growing up.

However, once school closed, I was faced with a completely different reality. Now I am not surrounded by the same swarms of familiar faces, and the perpetual buzzing in my ears. In fact, I am a proud member of a society completely devoid of people. That is until the calendar declared the onset of Pesach. With spring in the air, and the allergy-producing trees in bloom, my brother and I launched an original campaign, aptly named ‘The Quest for Humanity’. This plan is very simple. Any day that is a Yom Tov or Shabbos, we march around the neighborhood, searching for other beings, preferably human and breathing.

Naturally, so as to seem less suspicious (plenty of time to be branded as a stalker later) we bring along our nephew in his stroller, to make it seem that we are taking a walk purely for his sake. Little does he know. We map out our territory, debating which side streets to travel and which ones to avoid.

However, we discovered that the name we disposed upon our glorious scheme would have to be altered. It would have been more apropos to name it ‘The Quest for and Avoidance of Humanity’. Because we spent half the time peeking through streets to see if our friends were nearby, and then quickly ducking behind a tree when we recognize the teacher who recently reprimanded one of us (After all, we are teenagers. You can’t expect us to be fully mature yet).

Sometimes we crouch behind my nephew’s stroller, although in retrospect it may look a little suspicious to see an abandoned stroller with a baby still inside. My brother and I have entertained ourselves in this way many times, so much that I’m sure you can now hire us as professional spies.

The moral of the story is that my brother and I detected a facet of ourselves that was never fully exposed until now. Both of us view spending time with people as so important that we are willing to shatter our good names and reputations to prowl around in the scalding heat, just to say hello to people that are not directly related to us.

We all have a unique opportunity during this quarantine. It gives us the chance to explore ourselves and discover what we consider to be truly important. And whether that is spending time with people, reading, or playing gin rummy, if you do it outside on Shabbos or Yom Tov, we will probably find out. 

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