The Diverse Experiences of Women During COVID
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The Diverse Experiences of Women During COVID

49 personal essays chronicle the pandemic’s toll on Atlanta’s Jewish women and girls.

Last year, while the country and the Atlanta Jewish community struggled to stay grounded and survive the onslaught of the unfolding and perplexing COVID-19 pandemic, the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta decided to memorialize the experiences of Atlanta’s Jewish women and girls with a collection of essays written by those in the community.

The 49 anonymous essays chosen for the aptly named anthology, “2020 Hindsight: A Pivotal Moment in History, Through the Eyes of Atlanta’s Jewish Women and Girls,” vary in focus. Some of the writers were actually sick with the virus, some lost family members. Others focused on their marriages or jobs, and some were humorous.

The anonymity accorded by the JWFA allowed for a frankness that might otherwise have not been possible. Women wrote about their employment issues, teenage girls wrote about the pressure to be perfect, both physically and academically.

As one woman behind the JWFA effort — and a contributor, as well — explained, the book “acts as a time capsule and a literary way to document this singular part of history.”

One of the advantages of the collection is that it’s concise, allowing the reader to pick and choose which essay to read when. Any reader who has experienced the trauma of the pandemic and its unique impact on women, will find an essay that speaks volumes to them.

The opening words of the foreword, written by best-selling novelist — and Decatur resident — Zoe Fishman, immediately resonate with any reader: “It was a morning in June. Or was it July? Maybe May? I can’t be sure because time meant nothing in 2020.”

She continues with words that speak particularly to women. “Days were tracked according to which meal I was preparing and then cleaning up after. There was a particular relief as I closed the dishwasher after dinner.”

Fishman said she coined the term “co-polar depression,” or “depression in the time of Covid.” She explained that her “job was just to get through each day as it came. Obsessing about the future is a futile endeavor.”

“2020 Hindsight” is obviously relevant now, even as the experiences are still raw in readers’ minds. In the future, the book will allow readers to further their understanding of the trauma we’ve all experienced.

A virtual panel discussion — in partnership with The Breman Museum — will be live-streamed on Oct. 10, 7:00 p.m. EST. Tickets are free to the community.

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