Dealing with the Jewish World During Flu Season

It starts with a cough. Or congestion. Or overall malaise.

Then it turns into stomach pains, massive nose drainage, and woe-ing and kvetching. You’ve suddenly noticed the tired, glassy-eyed look and the way your friend’s head lulls around aimlessly.

Congratulations, you’ve entered cold/flu/need-to-up-the-Vitamin-C season.

Perhaps it started at work, or from the stress of dealing with finals or family during Thanksgiving. The temperature changes, day-to-day stress, and overall pick up of germs can cause the domino-effect of getting each other sick. And if you’re new to D.C. and jumping into the Jewish social scene, being trapped indoors during many of the wonderful events going on lately can also turn you into a prime petri dish.

Thankfully I’m not a doctor (sorry, Dad) and can only prescribe common advice as you can apply it to local Jewish events. If you catch a cold this season, please don’t sue me. GTJ does not offer its staff writers med-mal insurance.

Past that disclaimer, here are some generic tips we’ve all heard but could use the reminder to keep them top of mind:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Duh? But we all know that for the most part, we don’t actually scrub our hands and take off a layer of skin the way we’re supposed to. So keeping hand sanitizer around will effectively get the job done. That way, when you’re busy shaking hands and meeting new folks at events such as Kesher Israel’s community oneg on Dec. 9, you can more covertly squeeze a dollop of sanitizer between introductions. (Please don’t do it right after you shake someone’s hand, that might be considered fairly rude.)
  • Buffer the germs at the buffet table. Many of these events, such as luncheons after Shabbat services, or the terrific dinners at Café Night at 6 & I Historic Synagogue, tend to serve food buffet-style. Efficient? Yes. But please don’t double dip or snack directly from the table. Or stand over the table while you’re eating.
  • Watch your diet. Winter holidays in particular tend to induce a feeling of going all out and indulging on all sorts of great foods. But splurging for six weeks in a row can make your system yo-yo around, which can take a toll on your immune system. So before you go crazy at the next big meal, like the Moishe House Shabbat dinner on Dec. 9, check yourself. Generally drinking a glass of water, eating a food with protein, or curbing your sweet tooth with fruit or mint-flavored foods, can often help you balance out the “eyes-bigger-than-stomach” sensation.
  • If you’re getting sick, please stay home. Yes, you might’ve signed up for the Chanukah cooking demonstration Chabad is hosting Dec. 11, but no amount of gloves or wearing a mask will guarantee keeping you from infecting others. Especially since we’re talking about handling food, and most Jewish events do center around food. We love you, but do us a favor and get well before you join the party. You’ll be happier that you got the chance to rest up and kick the bug faster anyway.

If you’ve got a friend (or five) who aren’t feeling so hot, do what you can to visit them or keep them entertained if they’re down and out. Even if you can’t juggle hacky sacks or sing Britney Spears, your friends will at least laugh at you attempting to do so. And keeping your friends positive is a good way to help them get well.