The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle would love to hear your voices. What is it like being a teenager in the age of the coronavirus? How are you coping and what do you miss?
Send your thoughts, along with your name, neighborhood and a photo to
Toby Tabachnick, editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hate living like this. I need to be around other people who understand me, sometimes more than my family. I need to be able to daven with a minyan, and learn with other people in person. I miss the discussions we have and had during class, recess, lunch or whenever — whether they are about politics, Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Chalav Yisrael or even what classes we like and what test is coming up.
I miss hanging around in the Kollel, schmoozing Shabbos afternoon and just being around people.
I am nervous, because I am the only one in the class who still doesn’t know what their plan for next year is and I am not able to be around those people who would remind me that even if I stay at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, I can still survive, thrive and not be a wimp or loser.
I need to be able to decide what to get by seeing it in the store, not by knowing exactly what I want when ordering. I need to be able to learn and get educated without staring at a screen for hours at a time. Most of all I need and want to be around other people.
Chaskie Yolkut, 14
Making the best of a tough situation
As a teen during this global pandemic there are definitely some unique challenges. As someone who is very social and constantly involved in different community activities, like Bnei Akiva, playing basketball at the JCC or Davis park, and NCSY, being unable to participate in these social activities has been a very tough reality. It is especially difficult for those of us graduating high school in 2020.
I have been fortunate that my school, Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, has ensured that we will still have a daily schedule of classes online to keep us more than busy until the end of the semester. Online learning has taken some getting used to, and to be honest I have not found it easy.
In addition, I am also one of the mazkirim (leaders) of Bnei Akiva of Pittsburgh (our local chapter of the religious Zionist youth movement) and one of our signature events each year is our Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) ceremony. For obvious reasons this year we could not have our usual ceremony in the Shaare Torah social hall. Many hours were spent compiling and editing all of the moving parts of the ceremony and in the end the event was a massive success with over 100 participants.
Benjamin Marcus, 12th grade
I am coping fine but I’m very bored. I have lots of schoolwork and I try to get as much physical activity as I can. I miss going to the JCC and playing basketball or just hanging out with my friends. I try to stay healthy to make something useful out of each day.
But I barely leave the house and the only reason I might is that my mom forces me to go shopping or just walk outside aimlessly.
Ivry Sasson, grade 9
Building stronger connections during the pandemic
Living during a global pandemic that forces everyone to stay inside and socially isolate is not easy for anyone, whether they are a teen or an adult. I think the biggest thing I have learned from this pandemic is how much I cherish the moments of hanging out with my friends in person. It feels like society always calls our generation the “ones who are always on their phones,” but if anything, I have learned that we are just growing up differently from the previous generation. I know that I will make more of my hangouts with my friends in the future and urge them to stay off their phones and to make the most of the time that we have together. I hope that this pandemic can make a positive impact on our generation by making those in-person interactions more memorable.
With my Jewish identity, I have seen the Jewish community that I am part of with BBYO grow more and more from this situation. BBYO has created an easily accessible platform for teens all over the world to have virtual programs hourly throughout the week. I have enjoyed hosting events on My BBYO as well as attending some of my friends’ events, too, and even some celebrities that host virtual concerts. I feel this pandemic has helped me get closer to the people who really matter to me and build stronger connections with my friends in school and in BBYO.
Maya Leyzarovich, ninth grade