Lisa Levene, rebbetzin of Belmont Synagogue in North London, is attempting to “make sense of the rollercoaster I’ve experienced for the last few days”, having been rushed to Barnet Hospital with breathing problems.
Now discharged, she is reflecting on how “a healthy 40-year-old with no underlying medical conditions or health problems” could be so incapacitated because of coronavirus.
“I did not appreciate the severity of this virus. I found myself in bed, debilitated, unable to move or function, struggling to breathe and was in genuine fear of my life.
“This does not just affect old and vulnerable people. I thank Hashem that he gave me the strength to get through this.” There had been moments “when I didn’t think I would make it through.
“While everything is so fresh and raw, I wanted to publicly thank the nurses, doctors and anyone else putting their lives at risk to safeguard and look after us during such an inexplicable and painful time.”
Mrs Levene said she had witnessed “such incredible love, sensitivity and unknowable acts of kindness, personally or to others, of such indescribable proportions that I am left truly humbled.
“Hatzola, the Jewish medical ambulance service, the A&E wards, the isolation teams and the doctors and nurses who sacrifice themselves by serving those patients who are sufferers of this tragic virus. [To them] my hakaras hatov, deep immeasurable appreciation, is so hard to fully articulate.” Staff had seen “that I wasn’t just another number, bay two, bed nine. You were helping me, my family, wider family, my community and thousands more. I thank you all, the cleaners, porters, security staff. You are my undeniable heroes. Your inner strength and courage is unprecedented.”
She added that “by virtue of the fact that we are all Jewish, we are family. Our vulnerability at such times is so acute but we are part of a community, so never totally alone.
“We are all using what we have to give our uniqueness and share our abilities with those who need.
"No one truly knows how much that piano song someone sent me stirred my soul; the pictures of the wedding that I couldn’t be at touched my heart; the prayers from those who don’t even know me made me feel blessed.”
True Jewish leadership was not a job or a career, Mrs Levene said. “It is about ‘Hineni’ [Here I am], being there in whatever way that we can. Leadership is not about us and our ego. It’s about being there if needed and if not, stepping back.
“It is the little actions that often go unnoticed that define who we really are.”