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home : columns : dear harriette October 23, 2020

7/8/2020 9:25:00 AM
Sister won't participate in religious zoom celebrations

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a mother of two spending quarantine with my husband. My daughters are college-aged and living on their own. We have a large extended family that is used to seeing each other often throughout the year. We're trying to spend time together as a family during quarantine through Zoom celebrations of Jewish holidays. However, my sister is not religious and doesn't want to participate because we're celebrating religious holidays. How do we communicate to her that the significance of these events is not religion and make her comfortable joining in these family events? -- Family First

DEAR FAMILY FIRST: Consider hosting Zoom gatherings that are not affiliated with a religious occasion. Add a neutral date to your celebration schedule when you invite everyone to get together just because you love each other. This may attract your sister.

If she agrees to participate in this extra event, over time you may be able to reintroduce the idea of her joining in other family gatherings. Take it slowly. It could be that she won't do everything with you. But something is better than nothing.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 50-year-old woman who wants to go back to school for the first time since high school. Ten years ago, I tried to attend community college, but having a full-time job in addition to being a single mother prevented me from fitting it into my schedule. My son is in college now, and because of the pandemic, I want to move on from my job at a grocery store. Do you have any advice on this new big step? How do I balance schoolwork, a personal life and my job during the pandemic? Is it worth it? -- Next Steps

DEAR NEXT STEPS: Now is a time to pivot. Given the tremendous challenges that have come with the pandemic, people are reimagining their lives. Continuing education makes sense, especially if you can see a way to improve your overall well-being as a result of it.

While it will take a big time commitment, it is worth it to go back to school. Figure out what you want to do for work once you have your degree. That will help you decide what course of study you should pursue. IT jobs, medical technicians and medical records professionals are in high demand now. And the coursework and length of study are shorter than a more traditional college education. You can consider a range of job opportunities and the requisite education for them as you make your decision. Do research so that you make an informed decision. To learn more, go to

Also, because of the pandemic, school is largely virtual right now. That should make it a bit easier for you to work and manage your studies. You have to be well-organized and disciplined, but you can do it.

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