How to beat the virus
The tragedy of the covid-19 pandemic is that we’ve had the tools to defeat the virus for months, but we’ve lacked the wisdom and compassion to follow the simple prescription.
This failure is highlighted by two stories in the December 4 edition of the Jewish Standard: “Who’s Not Going to Go,” which detailed the lengths that our charedi brethren have gone to flout common sense rules and Shmuley Boteach’s column “Prayer is an Antibody,” which applauds the Supreme Court’s decision in cases brought by Agudath Israel and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese on attempts by New York State to limit attendance at houses of worship.
Rabbi Boteach assures us in his column that “we are all going to be OK.” I will leave the theology aside and just say that in my universe this is not true. Certainly not for the millions sickened and the hundreds of thousands that have died and will continue to die until our leaders, religious and secular, send the proper unambiguous message.
We know that the virus is transmitted person to person and that any gathering is a contagion vector. The simple solution is to stay away from each other whenever possible. Yet everywhere I look I see people who think that this basic rule does not apply to them. My neighbors have house parties, bars and restaurants are filled with laughing patrons, schools continue to operate, and yes, religious communities gather for exuberant prayer.
I am not a rabbi but I know that the Torah casts the preservation of life as paramount. It is time for responsible leaders of all communities to start sending that unequivocal message. No crisis in my lifetime has more clearly displayed our worldwide interconnectedness. The cure for covid lies with each and every one of us.