This was a week where I had so many things to choose to write about. I was planning to write about the Supreme Court vacating the stay of the New York State court’s order and the education department rules, the New York Times article, and the reaction to both. Then I got COVID. I am writing this column on the third day of having the virus. Hopefully, by the time the column is published, I will back to normal, or as some may say, normal for me.
I should not be shocked that I got it, since I have become more lackadaisical about wearing a mask in a public setting. I let my guard down due to COVID fatigue plus the reduction of the number of hospitalizations and deaths. I never believed the numbers listed for those who had COVID, since many people who test positive never report it. Plus, many people who have COVID are unaware that they have it since they never tested. I would have been in that group. The only reason I tested was because we had someone coming for a meal Friday night.
On Friday, I had to go to the courthouse in Jamaica. As usual, I walked both ways. However, I felt a little winded and congested. I thought it was due to allergies; it’s that time of year for me. My three daughters, when they had COVID, likewise had cold/allergy symptoms.
It’s never a good time to get COVID and then isolate. In some respects, this was an inconvenient time. I am unable to go to shul for davening and shlichos right before Rosh HaShanah. On Sunday, I was supposed to help the Queens Jewish Community Council pack and distribute Rosh HaShanah packages. On the other hand, I did not get it while overseas as my daughter Shoshana did, or in the winter as Yael Rebecca and Tovah. The weather has been comfortable, so I have been able to spend time on my porch or in my backyard fully masked. It beats being a prisoner in a room 24 hours a day. Also, being isolated and not being involved as much in normal day-to-day activities gives me much more down time to think about things. That is what we are supposed to do before Rosh HaShanah and the Ten Days of Repentance (aseret y’mei t’shuvah), ending with Yom Kippur.
Although I missed being able to help pack at the QJCC, it did not cost me any money. The time of the packing was the same as the Transportation Alternatives Tour de Staten Island. I was debating between packing and riding. I decided that it was more important to pack. Thus, I did not sign up for the ride. If I had signed up for the ride, I would not have ended up riding and have been out the money paid for the ride. Another example of when doing the right thing helps, even if not in the way expected.
What does concern me is whether I will suffer any long-term effects of COVID. This is one area which there is little research, and long-term COVID is more common than one may think. I also hope that I will be able to go to shul on Rosh HaShanah.
Things happen for a reason. It is hard to understand how Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who is conservative and had no qualms overruling Roe v Wade, which existed for almost 50 years, all of a sudden is worried about procedure. The Supreme Court, by its 5-4 vote vacating the stay on procedural grounds, was tantamount to requiring YU to have the club. It might take a while for the case to again come before the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the New York State order will remain in effect. There is little reason to believe that the New York courts will change their prior determination.
Also, timing is everything. The question is why I got COVID now. Likewise, why did the decision vacating the stay and the new education department rules also happen now? We know Rosh HaShanah is coming. The fight at YU is the clash between secular values and Torah values. Many would also argue that the fight between many Chassidic schools and the education department is the same battle. Is this a message that maybe some in the Orthodox community have allowed secular values to supersede Torah values? Have we frum Jews become too comfortable in a secular society that we need a wake-up call? I do not have the answer, but it is something that warrants introspection.
I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.