How one event-planner has adapted to the coronavirus age

In this time of the coronavirus, we – experts in rejoicing and loving and family and friends – are now struggling with uncertainty and with life itself.

Gilda Posner (photo credit: YONIT SCHILLER)
Gilda Posner
(photo credit: YONIT SCHILLER)
The obelisk is an ancient Egyptian rectangular stone pillar that serves as a landmark to commemorate a significant, consequential event. The image of the obelisk came to my mind as I listened to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address the nation on March 12.
What has now become a historic moment, the prime minister asked the nation for a cultural change in their instinctual behavior, “We love to embrace. We love to shake hands. We love to kiss. No more.”
Separation? Isolation? Social Distancing? This is a new language for a people intimately bound together by warmth, rituals and celebrations.
Who could fathom the reality to come? Disbelief, bewilderment, fear and ultimately, a reluctant acknowledgment.
“Dreams have been postponed, even canceled,” Gilda says. “I help create dreams. That’s what I do – but now everything is on hold.”
Gilda Posner, my daughter-in-law, is an event planner who lives in Modi’in with husband Aaron and five children. Born and raised in Toronto, Gilda completed a master’s degree in social work at Wurzweiler School of Social Work in New York and subsequently worked for 16 years in Toronto, playing a vital role in the lives of inner city, special needs children and teens. As a social worker, she strove to actualize potential and create a path to a viable future.
In 2013, Gilda and her family made aliyah and moved to Modi’in. Here in transition, in limbo between two countries, Gilda struggled with how to continue or perhaps, like many others, to recreate her career. Then she was approached by a friend for help to plan a bar mitzvah celebration.
In Toronto, Gilda’s table set for Shabbat, yom tov, a birthday party, any occasion, was renowned for its beautiful design, flowers and colors. The usual became unusual and special.
“I’m in the business of elevating a joyful celebration into a future beautiful memory,” says Gilda. “I’m called for a birth, a brit, naming a bat, a bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, graduation, engagement, a wedding. These are the transformative moments of our lives.”
More people called and eventually Epic Events Israel came into being.
In the past, Gilda could choose from the many magnificent venues all over Israel. She collaborated closely with florists, musicians, photographers, caterers, to coordinate and harmonize elements so that a simcha became an inspiring moment of gratitude.
However, in this time of the coronavirus, we – experts in rejoicing and loving and family and friends – are now struggling with uncertainty and with life itself. For as Netanyahu has asked of us, our behavior and experiences have been altered. We have been hurled into a void in which the organizing principles of time and rituals have ceased.
“Today I work under constraints. There are continual changes from one day to the next. There are limitations on the number of guests, there are the masks and the Alcogel, the social distancing,” explains Gilda. “Most often a small, intimate simcha pivots to the outdoors. I look for a setting based on the very specific needs and ideas that are presented to me.”
At a recent bar mitzvah, Gilda rented a tent so that the Torah reading could be held outdoors. At a wedding, Gilda ensured family seating and open casual seating to make people feel comfortable wherever they chose to sit. Personalized masks were provided. Water bottles with identifiable names were available for the wedding party. The scene became bright and shining when everyone danced holding on tightly to long ribbons of many colors embossed with the words “Mazal Tov” and the names of the bride and groom.
We all have adapted to a new physical and emotional reality.
Gilda understands that a celebration under any constraints can always overflow with heart and soul. The simcha is coordinated. The tables are set. The gorgeous flowers are placed on the tables. The music comes on and the heart is healed and uplifted.
Love continues to reign.
How will it feel to breathe again without fear? How will we restructure our lives?
With strength, with faith, with love. Each celebration stands firm as a personal obelisk, a marker on the journey of life.
The seventh wedding blessing of the sheva brachot rings out: “... and in the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of happiness ...”