We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Man behind Faces of COVID Twitter account tweets to make US confront its grief

15 2 2
17.10.2020

JTA — When Alex Goldstein first set out to memorialize Americans who died of COVID-19, he was overwhelmed by the vastness of the task ahead.

That was in March, when fewer than 8,000 Americans had died in the pandemic. Now, more than 200,000 deaths later, Goldstein is still tackling the Sisyphean task of documenting the human toll of the pandemic, on his seven-month-old Twitter account, Faces of COVID.

Every night before he lies down, and then every morning when he gets up, Goldstein spends several hours scouring the internet for new stories to share. In 240-character narratives, he shares poignant snapshots of the lives lost along with stories from local newspapers, obituaries, and photographs sent by family members.

Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up

Think of it as a Portraits of Grief, the New York Times’ post-9/11 memorial project, for the pandemic era — but with the built-in shiva, or Jewish condolence gathering, that social media enables. That’s by design, said Goldstein, the founder of a public relations firm who sits on the board of directors of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston.

“Judaism is intentional about creating space for mourning and about not hiding from the pain but facing it directly,” Goldstein said. “I feel that in this project. I feel that every day.”

What is more gratifying than an hour with a friend from Brandeis University you haven’t seen in literally years who is…

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Alex Goldstein‎‏ ב- יום שלישי, 13 בנובמבר 2018

What is more gratifying than an hour with a friend from Brandeis University you haven’t seen in literally years who is…

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Alex Goldstein‎‏ ב- יום שלישי, 13 בנובמבר 2018

Goldstein crossed the 3,000-story threshold this month, just as he also passed 80,000 followers — many fueled, he said, by a desire to transcend the increasing politicization of the virus. As the project has matured, Goldstein has branched out: He recently raised funds to produce videos showcasing first responders and educators who have died, and this week, in honor of Indigenous People’s Day, he spent a day highlighting Native Americans who died of the virus.

We spoke to Goldstein about what has surprised him about Faces of COVID, the stories that have stuck with him, and how he manages to have hope. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

JTA: What prompted you to start this account, and how have you approached it?

Goldstein: At the outset of the pandemic I was experiencing what a lot of people were experiencing: As these scary and overwhelming statistics started coming our way, I needed a way to humanize the level of loss that was happening out there. It was just for my own catharsis at first, but I quickly realized that others felt the same way.

I started on my personal Twitter account, but I decided I needed to create a space that was a little more accessible. In the third week of March I had the idea to launch Faces of COVID — that happened to be when both Boston and New York were both getting really slammed. It was really scary outside the four walls of my house and this was a way to humanize the trauma that was happening out there. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for seven full........

© The Times of Israel


Get it on Google Play