The year 2020 has finally come to an end — and not a moment too soon.  

As we look toward the New Year hoping for health and healing, let’s look back on one of the most challenging years in recent memory. 

Overarching 2020 was the global COVID-19 pandemic, which rages on. An astonishing 333,000 Americans have lost their lives to the deadly virus among 19.2 million who have been infected.  

Worldwide, some 80.6 million people have contracted the disease, numbers not seen since the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918.  

Heroic first responders — doctors, nurses and caregivers — are beyond the breaking point with emergency rooms resembling MASH units during a war.  

We should all thank the brave, dedicated warriors on the front lines of the struggle.

As 2020 ended, vaccines were developed by Pfizer and Moderna that proved 95 percent effective and millions of doses have already been distributed nationally and worldwide. 

Robert A. Cohn

Robert A. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Still, experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warn that there will be other spikes in COVID because of gatherings and failure to observe guidelines. 

A prayer for 2021: that the vaccines will be as effective in eradicating COVID-19 as the Salk and Sabin vaccines were against polio. 

The second major crisis which challenged our nation in 2020 was the most bitterly divisive election in American history.  

President Donald Trump has refused to concede and congratulate President-elect Joe Biden despite losing every challenge his lawyers mounted against the results. 

Trump has refused to invite Biden to the White House to facilitate a smooth transition, as is the historic custom. He seemed petulant and petty as the COVID-19 relief package sat unsigned on his Florida desk. On Sunday, he wisely signed the bill, providing urgently needed relief to millions of unemployed workers and small businesses. 

Let us hope that Trump will protect our democracy and accept the results of the election. Millions of Americans voted for Trump, who deserves credit for brokering peace deals between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. 

For the sake of America and his own legacy, I hope he will do the right thing and wish Biden success as he takes on the awesome burdens of the presidency. 

As we say goodbye — and good riddance — to the horrible year 2020, let’s pray that 2021 will be its exact opposite — a year of health, healing and hope.

Robert A. Cohn is  Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the St. Louis Jewish Light.