Dear Editor:

 You all know who I am and where I work. I just feel that I have to go on record. It is my medical opinion, and it is the same of all the infectious disease experts, that these minyanim are going to kill people. I know it is very difficult for you all to understand it, because it seems like an innocuous gathering of 15 to 20 people. I will happily take any of you on a five-minute tour of what is going on in my hospital right now.

As of this past Thursday, we had seven patients sick enough to be admitted. As of yesterday, it was 30, and as of today it’s 50. Elderly people from our neighborhood are on ventilators in the ICU because of these minyanim. There’s a 6 a.m. minyan, followed by 7 a.m., followed by 8 a.m., followed by a 9 a.m. minyan. Even if only 25 people come to each, that’s a hundred people in the same room in the same morning. Statistically, you guys are going to kill at least one old person every time you guys meet.

You all trust me to treat you like family when you come to my office, so I’m speaking to you like family. Stop the minyanim! Stop the gatherings! Stay home and pray by yourself. Have in mind the EMTs and the paramedics and the doctors and the nurses working in the hospitals who are working under ridiculous conditions trying to save as many people as we can. I admit, there will not be thousands of deaths in Kew Gardens Hills. But are we really willing to accept that one out of 100 people in our neighborhood will die? I am not.

We trust doctors whether or not to eat on Yom Kippur or when to make a bris milah. Why all of a sudden do you think it’s appropriate to ignore us?

Have a good night and good luck to us all.

Dr. Ellie Bennett


 

Dear Editor:

I have been asked by several people if the Vaad Harabonim of Queens endorses a particular candidate for borough president. The reason for the question is that a two-page ad appeared in last week’s Queens Jewish Link that featured a number of prominent rabbanim who are active in the Vaad, among other notables.

Please be advised that, as former president of the Vaad, I can state clearly that the Vaad never endorses a particular candidate for office. The fact that some Vaad members were present at the time the picture was taken should not be construed as an endorsement of that or any other candidate.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld


 

Dear Editor:

Haman described us as “one nation, dispersed and scattered.” He was right – but not the way he meant it. We are indeed “one nation.”

Late on Purim afternoon, my son Mendel excitedly called and said: “Tatty! I leined Megillah seven times in New Rochelle! We had a list of addresses and numbers, and we would call when we arrived. They would open a window, and I would lein from at least ten feet away,” Mendel told me.

Ever since my wife Tzipah and I moved to Kew Gardens Hills 15 years ago to establish Chabad at Queens College, many have asked us, “Why do you send your kids to school in Crown Heights?”

Indeed, it has involved great personal expense, lots of traffic on the Jackie Robinson Parkway, and long days for our children. Worth every minute. Worth every penny.

Our oldest son is 16 and is currently in his final year in the Chabad Mesivta (high school) in Westchester.

“There’s a Chabad community in Hastings?” many ask us when they hear that our son dorms there for yeshivah.

No, there’s just a yeshivah. The rabbis are amazing talmidei chachamim. The bachurim are dedicated. They spend most of their day learning Gemara in Yiddish.

The yeshivah doesn’t even have a sign! You wouldn’t know it’s there, and the one time we brought our son home in an Uber, the driver could hardly find it.

Mendel wasn’t the only one reading Megillah outside of a window. After consulting with health authorities, the yeshivah coordinated with the New Rochelle Jewish community.

The Rebbe taught that no Jew should be alone. No Jew should be alone, without mitzvos.

Tuition? Worth every penny. I am so happy that the many hours of Gemara, Halachah, and Chasidus all add up to one bottom line: No Jew should be alone.

I am so proud of our son. I am so proud to be a Jew!

But this is not something that is limited to bachurim in a Chabad yeshivah. Pesach is coming; it is a perfect time for you to reach out to your coworkers, friends, and acquaintances to make sure that they will have sh’murah matzah for Pesach. Send a text to someone who may be struggling. Call someone who could use some chizuk.

I used to think it was a bit strange that there is no sign in front of Yeshiva Mesivta Menachem. But now I think I understand why: You don’t need to find Chabad, because we will find you.

Yesterday, our son called from yeshivah to say hi. I was so proud to share these reflections from Barry Horowitz of New Rochelle with Mendel:

“You cannot underestimate the power of community. You cannot say enough about Chabad. The Rebbe made it loud and made it clear that Jews should never be forgotten – will never be forgotten. Not those with other customs, not those who have fallen into the trappings of addiction, not those who have ended up going in paths that others wouldn’t understand or take the time to care about trying to understand. And now, the power of kiruv, literally, to bring closer, has once again evolved further and, with it, deeper into the hearts of the New Rochelle community. And, in a way, we will not ever forget. They got closer – to our homes and to our hearts.

In a world of extreme political divisiveness, in a week that feels more like Armageddon than salvation, on the same day that the National Guard is literally sealing us off from the rest of the world (no political intentions right now please), Chabad sent soldiers of their own, from their true Tzivos Hashem: not “around” our community, but straight into the heart of our proud Jewish community – two times – for hours and hours at a time – in a safe yet determined manner – standing outside of home after Jewish home – in the rain when needed – reciting the Megillah over and over again. They taught us and our children what it means to go out of one’s way to do a mitzvah li’shmah (purely for the sake of the mitzvah).

No press conferences, no public statements, just Jews looking out for other Jews. Period. The Rebbe would be proud – I suspect proud but not at all surprised.

Mi k’amcha! Thanks for teaching us and our children the lesson of a lifetime.”

Shaul Wertheimer

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