Fathers and daughters find creative ways to bond during quarantine

 At a time defined by social distancing, these two dedicated Jewish dads have found special ways to connect with their daughters:

Dad bonding image
Rob Fenton and his daughter Evan

A musical duo  

Rob Fenton and his daughter Evan have created a music video together once a week since the stay-at home-order started on Evan's fourth birthday. "We're a very musical family, very exaggerated, and theatrical, so she likes to put on a performance," Rob said, and once Evan chooses the song each week, he captures them on video, complete with costumes, dancing, and singing. 

So far, the Evanston Jewish father and daughter duo have performed songs like Friday by Rebecca Black, The Sign by Ace of Base, Bye Bye Bye by N*SYNC, Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul, and a Disney medley. Many of the songs Evan chooses are ones she has heard on the drive to school. She performs them alongside her dad, with cameos by her mom and her baby brother Josh. 

Rob purchased video editing software and learned how to piece together each week's creation, which he posts on Facebook every Friday. The response to the videos has encouraged him to keep going, in addition to the way it helps pass time during a difficult season. "It's been a nice thing to rally around every week," he said. 

"At the end of the day, your child will tell you what they want to do and what they're excited about," he reflected. "If you become the role-player and let them be the star, they'll love you forever for it." 

A special wedding officiant          

When Emmy Yura Gerbie realized that her wedding scheduled for May 24 would be affected by the pandemic, she was quick to come up with a solution: her dad. 

Mark Yura, who previously officiated at his oldest daughter Rachel's wedding in 2016, "considered it to be an honor and a privilege, and readily obliged" to officiate at Emmy's socially-distanced ceremony with their immediate family and her new husband David's, followed by a small luncheon. 

"It was really special having my sister being married by my dad, and I wanted to have that be how we did it," said Emmy, who plans to have a Jewish ceremony in the future when social distancing is no longer a concern. 

During the ceremony, Mark made a speech about the happy couple and facilitated the exchange of vows, which included family heirloom rings on both sides. 

Even with a variety of complications caused by COVID-19, including a rush to get the marriage certificate to the city clerk's office the day before it shut down, the father-daughter pair found great meaning in the ceremony. 

"The ceremony was perfect," Mark said. "It may not have been what we were planning, but under these circumstances, it's necessary to be flexible. Emmy presented the opportunity, and as a family we seized it; it was unforgettable and something that we'll always treasure." 

And even without the ability to hug her dad after the ceremony, Emmy felt very close to him: "Being physically together isn't always what you need to feel close to your family," she said. 

"The inability to connect physically didn't detract for a second from the magic and the beauty of that afternoon," Mark echoed. "It was the greatest thing in the world to be able to celebrate life going forward even when everything seems to be stuck in neutral." 

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