Carol Sklar has recently retired from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s (BIDMC) chemistry lab, where she worked as a level five medical lab scientist for 46 years.

From the onset of COVID-19, Sklar said she knew things were going to be different.

“Things were really bad and we didn’t know how bad it was going to get,” she said. 

The lab Sklar worked in began to have less tests but even more work on their hands.

“You could feel the lab closing down from the outside in,” Sklar said, referring to the lack of out-patients as well as elective surgeries since the start of the pandemic.

Sklar would go to the market and run other errands for others since she was already “out there,” as she called it, due to her job at the hospital.

“The whole world was working at a different frequency than those in the hospital,” Sklar said. “By Friday your head is exploding.”

And that is why JewBer’s weekly Shabbat meal delivery made that much of a difference to Sklar.

“It made you know that someone realized you were doing something different than everyone else,” Sklar said. “It really has for me become a remarkable grounding experience.”

Skar first heard of JewBer from Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in Newton. Quickly, she became excited for her meals to arrive each week. Since portions are large, she was happy to now have not only a dinner ready but also a lunch she could bring with her to BIDMC. 

“They always did it with such style and happiness,” Sklar said. “It wasn’t like Amazon dropping off a package.”

Even when Sklar was not around to receive the meal at her house, she said the text messages she got from the volunteers were personable and made the meal that much better.

“It was such a very nice thing. It makes you feel connected to a larger community,” said Sklar, adding that the holiday kits made the deliveries even more special, especially around Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah. 

Sklar even started new traditions with her daughter thanks to her deliveries.

“It got me lighting candles more often,” Sklar said.

She would text her daughter a photo of her lit candles from JewBer’s delivery kits. The two would then discuss what they were thankful for each week, creating a sense of togetherness even while they were apart due to COVID-19.

“It was exciting,” Sklar said. “You could feel the thoughtfulness [in each Shabbat meal].”

Looking ahead, while Sklar will not be receiving meal kits herself anymore or working directly in the hospital, she still has hope for the future, calling what is ahead of her “limitless.” She had a list she made before the pandemic of what she would do during retirement. The list has had to morph a bit due to social distancing requirements. But Sklar still seems positive.

“We’ll get through this one,” she said.

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