Between the Hammer & the Anvil, Life Still Goes On06/08/2021
I’m writing this column in my home office, conveniently located in the shelter room of our apartment (colloquially called MaMaD in Hebrew). Tonight was the first night in a few days without alarms in Tel Aviv, and we all could finally get some sleep. We are seasoned with rocket alarms and wars and try to keep good humor; however, only by looking at the current situation with foreign eyes one can understand how terribly abnormal it is.
In early May, we were optimistic. For the first time in a year, we were finally allowed to walk outside without masks. I went to my office early Sunday morning and was feeling a bit naked, like an important part of me suddenly went missing. I could only compare it to the first days after the end of my military duty, when I was constantly touching my left shoulder and looking for the beret.
People get used to even the most terrible situations, and finding purpose is crucial for one to remain sane. As in early spring of 2020 people around us were quarantined and then all of Israel went into complete lockdown, I looked around me and realized, like a true former Soviet, that things could be much worse. Yes, we were fortunate, and we are grateful for that. We were fine, we were healthy, neither of us lost a job, and our fridge was well-stocked.
My wife Merav, a lecturer at the Open University of Israel, was already used to teaching online years before the pandemic; our son, Itamar, could play with his friends, fortunately living in the same condo with us (yes, we’re Israelis, so we somewhat bent the rules…); and I was focusing on lecturing anywhere from Vladivostok to San Francisco and expanding my consulting activities. We had an online Passover Seder – a bizarre, yet nonetheless funny situation – and despite the circumstances and the uncertainty, during the lockdown we had a rather good family time.
This wasn’t the case for all of us. Every Israeli knows someone who contracted COVID, and many of us lost relatives to the pandemic. My own grandma spent two months locked up in a hospital where no one could visit her, and she could barely use the phone to talk to us. Luckily, we got her home eventually.
During the first lockdown, Israel was stormed with protests. Business owners, including numerous dentists, marched in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and throughout the country in a cry for help – however, government aid came too little, too late; and many of our colleagues had to tighten their belts. Throughout the whole economy, many of my friends lost their jobs or were given a furlough until further notice; some of our colleague dentists decided to reduce or shut down their practices.
Even as in May 2020 dental clinics reopened again, our patients weren’t yet ready to come back, and for those who did show up, we had to take extreme caution. As the second-hand market was filling up with dental equipment and clinics for sale, it was clear that the “new normal” is yet to be seen.
Both in Alpha Omega Israel and in the Israel Association of Oral Implantology, we tried to keep good spirits by organizing webinars throughout the lockdown. There were days that one webinar chased another, and one could spend an entire evening moving from one Zoom session to another.
In the IAOI, we sent every member a copy of “Antifragile” by N.N. Taleb, as COVID turned out to be a real “black swan”, and we all needed a moment to deal with it rationally.
As 2020 came to an end, we were excited to hear that vaccines would be available for us much earlier than initially anticipated. As dental professionals, we enjoyed immediate access to vaccination for us and our auxiliaries, and so I received my first dose on the third day of the vaccination campaign. The distribution of the vaccines and the orderly management of the vaccination stations were so fast and efficient that it really made us proud. By the end of January, all my adult family members were already vaccinated, and we could worry much less.
In late April of 2021, we finally held the Alpha Omega Israel conference, which was postponed several times due to the pandemic. As we gathered at the north of Israel, we finally enjoyed some time together with colleagues whom we haven’t seen for a long time. In the hotel, we could remove our masks, enjoy lectures and leisure activities together, and sip cocktails in the lobby until the late night – an activity we almost forgot existed during the last crazy year.
As COVID patient numbers keep steadily dropping and life in Israel slowly went back to normal, we hoped for the best – only to find ourselves in the epicentre of another military operation, paired with riots inside Israel. And while most of us want peace, coexistence, and a steady government for once, it seems that these riots are fueled by politicians who want the exact opposite.
Anyhow, wars in Israel don’t last long. Soon I will be able to reopen the steel shutters of my office’s window and get back to normal life. And as for COVID-19 – I can only hope that the rest of the world will follow our lead and vaccinate. I would like to wish the very best to our colleagues and fraters in the UK and elsewhere. Be well, stay safe, and I hope to be able to meet you in person very soon.
Dr. Vladi Dvoyris
Regent, Alpha Omega Israel
THE FIRST MEET-UP OF AO ISRAEL AFTER LOCKDOWN