It appears the political divide in this country is getting wider. There used to be Conservative Democrats and Liberal Republicans. However, as time has worn on and the passionate bases of each party became more vocal, it is increasingly rare to find individuals who would be classified as pro-gun Democrats or pro-choice Republicans. They still exist, but as echo chambers widen and people get their news from highly-specialized sources targeting their message towards audiences with increasingly-narrowing ideals, it is very difficult to find balanced, well-argued points from the opposition.

So it finally happened. The CDC released guidelines stating that fully-vaccinated individuals may gather in groups unmasked indoors or outdoors without social distancing. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Firstly, state and local governments do not have to adopt these guidelines into law. These are, in fact, only guidelines and the despite the power the CDC has wielded over the last 14 months and counting, they do not have legislative authority. Additionally, busses, trains, and other forms of public transportation will still require masks, and of course immunocompromised individuals are recommended to continue to be cognizant of their surroundings and remain distant and in masks.

It has now been over a week since the conflict between Israel and Hamas has quieted, and we can look forward to relative peace over the next few years. However, it is important to look at what transpired here in America to be able to appreciate what happened.

March 10, 2020: The start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was Purim Day. At that time, we had no clue what was going to be coming our way for the next 15 months and counting. It’s true that there were some communities that saw the effects of COVID prior to Purim, and others that would not see the effects until a week or two later, but that was the day that many, especially in our communities, remember the pandemic starting.

The violence in Israel for two weeks has spilled out into the rest of the world. Jews in multiple countries have been attacked for what is perceived as Israel’s crimes. Anti-Semitic violence is back up to pre-COVID levels, and here in New York is no exception. Last Thursday, Joseph Borgen was brutally attacked on the streets of Manhattan, and he joined me for a conversation this week about the incident and what he wants to happen moving forward.

Of all the promises President Biden made during the 2020 presidential campaign, none were more important for the fabric of the nation than the promise to unite the country. Once he had won the presidency, Biden reiterated this promise. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify,” Biden said in his November 7 victory speech, “who doesn’t see red states and blue states - only sees the United States.” Throughout the campaign, the former Vice President looked to contrast his message of unity with President Trump’s extremely divisive four years in office.