Yesterday was our second Shabbat since social distancing became the new norm. To top it off, it rained all day and we were unable to take our kids outside. Okay, we can handle that, right? It’s family time, tacos, ice cream, singing together... it’s actually quite lovely for me because while my husband is still lucky enough to have work, I’m alone all week with my two babies. This means that on Shabbat, I’ve got a partner to clean the little potty that my daughter now uses, to feed the baby in his high chair, put toys away, or do a round of dishes...
What we were not expecting was to be locked inside for 25 hours and then lose electricity on Saturday morning. It started with a few weird sparks in the lamp.. we knew something weird was going on. Though it didn’t seem windy outside, anything is possible. We live near a major road that connects the suburbs to the city; we are accustomed to PECO trucks being in the back fixing power lines and transformers, or whatever it is they do when the power goes out. It’s often enough that we expect it.
We have even petitioned to the electric company, as a community of observant Jews living within 3 blocks of the major road, to not do work on our most sacred holidays as a response to when we’ve received hard-copy letters informing us of scheduled outages for Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot. Our letters and calls worked- those outages were rescheduled from our collective ask.
But when you’ve been home for two weeks straight without a trip to a museum, park, relative’s home, or evening going to synagogue on Saturday to try and socialize, a power outage on Shabbat feels outright annoying. Try to make the best of it: everyone has their different methods. Mine is opening all of the blinds so the light can come in. That joke was on me because the outside gloom was grey and dreary. No light came in. It felt a bit depressing, honestly. My husband’s method is to eat lunch even if it’s 9:45AM just in case it doesn’t stay hot for later. At least he had a plan. He did just what he planned, and fed the kids a snack, too.
The power eventually came back, went off again, but ultimately came back on for good so we didn’t have too much to worry about. Lunch was still hot (my first portion, my husband’s second). The baby audio monitor went back on. But the clocks- not so much. We had one working clock in the living room and one working watch in the house!
It was actually fine, though. We enjoyed our delicious kids entertaining us and we both got a nap in the afternoon, while our kids slept. In times like these, I am thankful this happened on Shabbat when our phones and TVs were not available to us anyway. Had this happened on a rainy Wednesday, we’d really have felt stumped but for some reason when the lights go off and the clocks stop working on Shabbat, we allow God to continue doing his work and bring light to us in other ways.