Pandemic perks?
COVID-19Ron Wilen: making good use of the time at home

Pandemic perks?

Have you found any silver linings within the coronavirus crisis? Share them with the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle so we can share them with our readers!

Ron WIlen (Photo provided by Ron Wilen)
Ron WIlen (Photo provided by Ron Wilen)

During these surreal and challenging days, have you found any silver linings?
Maybe spending more time at home has given you a greater appreciation for your family. Maybe you have found inspiration in an online Jewish course. Or maybe you finally have the time to learn to knit or play the sax or master Portuguese. We want to hear all about it!
Send your “Pandemic Perk” to Toby Tabachnick at, along with your name, neighborhood and photo. Your submission could be included in print and on our website,

Nurturing relationships, getting back to Jewish roots
I normally work at the JoS. A. Bank men’s store in Mt. Lebanon, but in staying at home I have made the best use of my time, finding new stimulations and connections with people.

The best part of my day is time with my grandchildren in Baltimore and in Washington D.C. I put on my silly hat and have activity time with them every day. We started out by reading kids’ stories, then added kids’ bingo, cute animal videos on YouTube, show and tell, playing with puppets, and even giving the kids turns to read. I bring the books (which I borrowed from an online library) up on my iPad while FaceTiming on my phone so I can show them the book while

I read to them. I was also able to show them the animal videos this same way. We spend 15-30 minutes daily.

I also spend time each day contacting friends, relatives and previous coworkers. We either talk or FaceTime. I have been in touch with over 100 people, many whom I haven’t talked to in over 40 years. I also reconnected with my confirmation class from Monessen, and we now have monthly Zoom reunion calls.

I have gotten more involved with Judaism through Zoom Talmud study, Pittsburgh Jewish history and weekly discussion groups with Beth El and Rabbi Alex Greenbaum and have taken a class from Chabad.

I went through old family pictures and movies from over 50 years ago. I videotaped the movies on my phone and took pictures of the old family pictures, and sent them out to three generations. Most of the recipients had never seen these and it gave us common ground to reconnect with our heritage.

I have made exercise part of my daily routine and either walk or use the treadmill 40 minutes every day to attempt to stay in shape.

I also was able to watch every day of the Pittsburgh Jewish Film Festival.

Finally, we were supposed to be in Israel and Jordan the past two weeks, so we used YouTube videos to visit the sites we would have seen. We also have virtually traveled all around the world from the pyramids, to Paris and Rome, to Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands.

I felt it important to maintain social contacts, reestablish my Jewish roots, and to help keep family connected.

Ron Wilen

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