Kudos to Rabbi Schonfeld for his accurate portrayal of the anti-vaxxers.
Everyone agrees that if a guy was running down the street waving a gun, we should tackle him and have him arrested. The overwhelming majority of the medical community is in complete agreement that vaccines save lives. I work in Kew Gardens Hills, and most people reading this know who I am. The number of positive COVID tests in my office has been steadily increasing – and more than 90% of those are unvaccinated. In the last week alone, I had two, healthy unvaccinated men in their 30s who spent a week in the hospital due to pneumonia from COVID with very low oxygen levels.
In the words of Jimmy Kimmel: “You all remember that time you got polio and were paralyzed? You don’t – because your parents vaccinated you!!”
My message continues to be “Get vaccinated!!” It will save the lives of your friends, parents, and grandparents.
Dr. Elie Bennett
Refusing The COVID Vaccine Is Not Crazy Or Sinful
With all due respect to Rabbi Schonfeld, I disagree entirely with his piece urging us to take the COVID-19 vaccines.
Not everybody who is opposed to these vaccines is “conspiratorial” or even an “anti-vaxxer,” as he calls them. Many fully support the use of existing vaccines but have serious concerns about the COVID vaccines. Among them are reputable scientists.
Rabbi Schonfeld uses anecdotes like “This guy who didn’t want to take the COVID vaccine died” and “Nobody in my family experienced adverse effects.” But anecdotes prove nothing. They are not data, statistics, or science.
Then he finishes with some religious guilt-tripping. This is a terrible reason for anyone to take any medical treatment. Such a decision should be made purely on the available data and a careful risk-benefit analysis.
It’s fine if Rabbi Schonfeld thinks we should all vaccinate, but he needs a better argument.
A recent picture of a demonstration against mask mandates showed a woman with a sign saying, “My body, my choice.” Whatever the merits of such an argument may be from a legal or political perspective, such an attitude is completely antithetical to Torah values. When our decisions put the lives and health of others at risk, they are not a matter of personal choice.
We are taught “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh – All Jews are responsible for each other.” Each of us has the responsibility to protect the lives and health of our fellow Jews. Our wonderful chesed organizations are based on this principle.
Our rebbeim and moros work with great skill and m’siras nefesh to help transmit the m’sorah to our children. To say that we do not have a responsibility to do everything possible to protect them while they are engaged in this m’leches ha’kodesh is absurd. School administrators and parents have a responsibility to make sure that their children wear masks to protect their teachers.
Wearing a mask is inconvenient and uncomfortable. Mask mandates are difficult to enforce. This is all the more true when children are involved. But let’s be clear. Tens of thousands of people have died of asphyxiation or wound up on respirators as a result of COVID. No one has died or wound up on a respirator from wearing a mask.
COVID rates are going up across the country. But statistics show that the rate of new cases is far greater in states where resistance to mask and vaccine mandates is highest. Masks are not 100 percent effective. But they can significantly reduce the risk of COVID. If a mask mandate can save the life of even one teacher, we have a duty to implement and enforce mask mandates in our schools.
Masks are a tool that Hashem has given us to protect us from COVID. It is our responsibility to use them.
As I have written before, last week’s parshah, Ki Seitzei, teaches us: “When you build a new house, you shall make a fence for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it.” We are not allowed to simply say that G-d will protect people from falling off the roof. We are required to act responsibly by building a fence. If we fail to do so and tragedy strikes, the guilt is on us.
Rashi explains that even if the person who falls off the roof was meant to die, we should not allow his death to take place by our actions. This mitzvah is not just about building a fence on a roof. It is a command for us to act responsibly by taking the necessary precautions to prevent tragedy.
The events of last year – COVID, Meron, Givat Ze’ev, and Surfside – should have taught us that failure to follow public health and safety regulations can lead to tragedy. Our t’shuvah for the coming year must include a commitment to use the tools that G-d has given us to act responsibly to protect ourselves and others.
Our schools should impose and enforce mask mandates. Our shuls should seriously consider doing the same. Not because Joe Biden said so. Not because Anthony Fauci said so. But because that is what our Torah values demand that we do.
There is a difficulty with one of the statements in the article by Moshe Hill, “An Open Letter to Our Schools” (August 20): “For children to be forced to protect adults is logically and morally backwards.”
Children from a very young age should be taught V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha and V’hadarta p’nei zakein. This includes caring for others and being sensitive to their needs and fears.
In addition, Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la’zeh includes principals and parents being responsible for the teachers and school staff. Getting the children to wear masks falls under this.
Recently, Warren Hecht was thrilled that I and several other Queens Jewish Link writers agreed with him!
However, the honeymoon is over! Warren, sadly you suffer from a severe case of Trump derangement syndrome. How could you blame President Trump, who was forceful in his negotiations and respected by world leaders? Under his leadership, no new wars were started in his presidency – which no other president can boast of in recent years. The Taliban knew that Trump would have bombed them to smithereens if they stepped out of line!
Trump is in sharp contrast to ice-cream-cone-eating Joe Biden, who blames him whenever he wants to, the Afghan soldiers, and anyone else who he can to deflect his inadequacies. When Biden took office, he immediately canceled vital pipelines, thereby making us more energy dependent on our enemies. (Has anyone seen recent gas prices?) He halted building our southern border fence, opening a floodgate of illegal immigrants (not to mention how many are hardened criminals and have COVID). If Trump’s Afghanistan plan was so bad, why not simply scrap it, as he overturned everything else?
Despite being warned of the dire consequences by the intelligence community, he proceeded recklessly. Perhaps Biden has been taught by Obama, who refused to allow the Sixth Fleet to respond to what happened in Benghazi and fired several high-ranking commanders who recommended a military response such as McChrystal and Petraeus. Obama wanted to appease the Taliban, and Islamic terrorists in general, and terminated 200 senior officers, thereby minimizing the role of the US as a preeminent world power. Joe’s “The Buck Stops Here” statements are empty words. His mantra that he has so much foreign policy expertise is a farce, and only a person with Trump derangement syndrome can’t see it!
One of the major attractions of living in Kew Gardens Hills is that it is a walkable community. Stores, restaurants, banks, the Post Office, mass transit, and many other amenities are all within easy walking distance. A standard metric used to measure the walkability of a community is the Walk Score, which ranges in value from 0 (“car dependent”) to 100 (“walker’s paradise”). Kew Gardens Hills has a Walk Score of 83, which merits the label “very walkable.”
Walkability in Kew Gardens Hills, though, is now being compromised by the growing number of wheeled devices being driven on our sidewalks. These include traditional bicycles, electric or e-bikes, “kick” scooters, electric scooters, skateboards, mopeds, and hoverboards. Walking on the sidewalks in our neighborhood (especially Main Street) has become hazardous. Pedestrians constantly need to either abruptly stop in their tracks or swerve out of the way to avert being struck by one of these fast-moving vehicles. Even more frightening are the wheeled devices that approach from the rear and that make little noise – the “stealth” bicycles, etc. And the result oftentimes is not just a bruised knee. Seniors and people with impaired mobility (who constitute a significant segment of our community’s population) are particularly vulnerable to being thrown down.
There are several city-wide ordinances that stipulate that drivers of these various vehicles be of a minimum age, not ride on the sidewalks, and not exceed a certain speed. As is obvious, these rules are “more honored in the breach than in the observance.” What can be done? First, traffic patrol officers can start to enforce existing traffic laws. Second, parents can instruct their children in the “rules of the sidewalk” so that they become more consciously aware and respectful of other sidewalk users.
Some readers may view this issue as a trivial one. Let me respond by citing a recent op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal (July 26, 2021) written by Warren Kozak, entitled, “Social Breakdown Starts with Skipping a Stop Sign.” The author writes: “If cities are to continue to attract people, businesses, and tourists, if a city’s economy is to remain stable, if cities continue to be a viable environment for human beings, then the basic rules of safety, courtesy, and common sense have to hold. That would start with a renewed respect for something so simple, and as vital, as a stop sign.” And I would add, start with a renewed respect for pedestrians simply walking on a sidewalk.
Kew Gardens Hills
I want to thank Goldy for writing about how people should end all relationships in their lives. It’s common sense, but sometimes it just has to be said.
I was once an administrator and had to terminate an employee. It was horrible. I tried to keep it simple and state facts: under-productivity, sour attitude towards co-workers. I documented written warnings that he had been issued, but it was a scene. I was called names, there was yelling. I understood that the employee was hurt and emotional, but there is no excuse for the behavior and words said during the exit meeting. That is the lasting impression I have of that person, and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was over a decade ago.
I have also had relationships that did not work out but ended amicably. Sometimes I was the dumper and sometimes I was the dumpee. Thankfully, there was never a scene during a breakup that resembled the one when I had to terminate the employment of that employee.
You never know where life takes you. I’m sure the employee would be embarrassed, or at least should be, of what was said at the meeting. But I’m glad to say that I have nothing to be embarrassed of when any relationship came to an end, even if I was not the one to initiate the breakup.
As is to be expected, Mr. Hecht blames Trump for what is currently taking place in Afghanistan. Too bad President Joe Biden emphatically said, “The buck stops with me.” That’s correct. As Commander in Chief of the United States, Biden gets to hang his hat as the sole person responsible for the worst debacle in US foreign policy, regardless of what Mr. Hecht thinks. Added to President Biden’s terrible domestic policy – as demonstrated by the rise in inflation and the open southern border – and we now have a perfect storm of the destruction of America. We no longer have personnel in powerful positions looking out for the citizens of this great country – from the President and Vice President to the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
I loved Goldy Krantz’s article. I once broke up with a boyfriend I had for almost a year. He couldn’t understand why I was ending things. He kept asking, “Why?” He didn’t seem to understand anything I was saying. I tried to drop some hints that I wasn’t happy with our relationship, and with him, for a couple of weeks before this, but when I saw he wasn’t catching on, I just simply said I didn’t think things were working out. I know I shocked him, but I really tried to do it gently, because I would want someone to break up with me gently. He texted me a few times later in the week, asking if we can meet to discuss the relationship and how we can both improve. I never responded and blocked his number. I don’t know if he sent a dozen more texts or none at all.
A couple of months ago, I ran into him and a friend of his I knew. It was awkward because of how things ended. I never answered his texts. But I wanted a clean break. But we are both grown people. And it was a long time ago. He should have gotten over it; even if he didn’t, he should have at least acted like a mentch. I’m sure he may have badmouthed me to this friend, but at least the friend was cordial. I can’t say that for my ex-boyfriend.
Great lessons to be learned.
I would like to thank Moshe Hill for his article “Biden’s Failure in Afghanistan is His Alone.” Biden puts the blame for this disaster on Trump. Warren Hecht also predictably blames Trump. The truth is that Trump would have handled things much differently. I would like to take the time to mention something that the media has largely ignored: Our military has lost its effectiveness because it has gone “woke.”
General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that his main focus is LGBT and CRT (critical race theory). CRT is a virus that has infected all parts of our society. It divides this country and weakens this nation in many ways. The purpose of our military is to protect our country, not destroy it. The military should never be involved in domestic politics. It is no wonder that our Armed Forces were unprepared for what happened in Afghanistan. When prime directive is CRT and LGBT, there is no room to consider anything else.