Phyllis Zimbler Miller – Jewish New Year in the Time of COVID

September Reflections on the Jewish New Year in the Time of COVID

While many of you reading this guest post will not be celebrating the fall Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), I feel strongly that all of us can learn from these meaningful holidays during this very stressful time of COVID.

For more knowledge on the holidays, I’ve included links at the end of this guest post to the specific chapters of my co-written Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION.

Now, though, I want to talk about universal concepts:

The other day my youngest brother said something very compelling. To paraphrase him (hopefully accurately), he said that there is no society if people only help others because they are paid to do so or they expect a reward for doing so. My brother said there is no society without people willing to help others just because it is the right thing to do.

The recent news article “Honesty of the long-distance runner” from provides an amazing example of this. I am including the link to the article at the end of this post so you can read the compelling article in its entirety.

Last month as my guest post here I wrote about how writers can encourage others to follow COVID safety steps, including WEARING A MASK —

As I reflect during the upcoming days of the Jewish High Holidays on how I can be a better person, I hope that I have done all I can to prevent my infecting anyone with COVID. I believe we all have a moral duty to protect each other as best we can – the opposite of selfishness. (And, yes, I’m going somewhat stir crazy, too, but that does not give me the right to put anyone else at risk.)

If you read science fictions books, you may have an idea of what the world could look like in which no one cares about others and there is total anarchy. Or what would happen if we followed Mel Brooks’ words from THE 2,000-YEAR-OLD MAN – “Let ‘em all go to hell except Cave 76.”

What I’m asking of the readers of this blog post right now is very simple:

  • Try to be understanding rather than judgmental of others – we don’t know the “backstory” of someone’s behavior. (In the Netflix eight-part drama series GIRI/HAJI about unintended consequences – the self-destructive behavior of the young London rent boy Rodney is incomprehensible until in the 8th and final episode of the show he visits his mother after a six-month absence. The few sentences of that scene are all we need to know to understand and have deep empathy with Rodney.)
  • Follow the health and safety regulations of your local, state and federal governments. You do NOT know better than health officials what is needed.
  • Reflect on how you can offer a helping hand (socially distanced, of course) in small acts of kindness through this difficult period of COVID.
  • Get a flu shot as soon as it is available in your area to protect yourself and others.

Pouring honey on a slice of red apple with a honey dripper

One more thing, as the wife of an estate planning lawyer I’ve heard too many horror stories of people dying without estate planning documents or with outdated ones. Both my 95-year-old parents died in the past few months during the lockdowns. Thankfully they had up-to-date estate planning documents so no family feuds over possessions ensued.

And because COVID can strike any of us at any time, even though I have up-to-date estate planning documents, I’m going through my own mementoes so that I don’t leave my adult children with mounds of miscellaneous items to wade through.

I hope that this Jewish New Year guest post has provided food for thought for your own lives, and do check out the links below.

Honesty of the long-distance runner:

Rosh Hashanah chapter:

Yom Kippur chapter:

Free estate planning articles at

May this coming year be one of health and productivity for all of us.

Traditional Challah.


Phyllis Zimbler Miller is an author and screenwriter in Los Angeles. She can be reached through her website at

Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Screenwriter * Author

Skype: PhyllisZimblerMiller12

Member of Women in Film
Member of the Dramatists Guild
Member of Military Writers Society of America




Comments 2

  1. Post

    Thank you once again, Phyllis, for giving me pause to stop and think. I appreciate that because, like a lot of people, sometimes I get caught up in my world and don’t realize how important it is to be part of a community. My deepest sympathies over the loss of your parents.

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