Sinai really does teach its students to be mensches

As a senior high school student at Torah Academy of Bergen County, I wanted to write to share my personal experiences with the Sinai School students who are part of my TABC community (“Making Menschen,” Dec. 17).

It is very clear to me that Sinai works hard to teach its students how to be mensches, and they are. I was recently playing chess on my phone when a Sinai student came over to me, expressed interest in my game, and then shook my hand to introduce himself. I was so impressed by his behavior! Sometimes we just take for granted how to make friends and respect others. This Sinaistudent set an example that can be learned from by the whole school of how to connect with others and make friends.

In short, Sinai students are a beloved, respected part of my school community, and I truly feel that we TABC students have much to learn from our peers, in fact — perhaps far more than we could ever teach them.

Daniel Brauner

Give me more Rosanne!

With apologies to Emma Lazarus: “Keep your various columnists, I cry with silent lips.” Give more of Rosanne Skopp’s writings. “I lift my hand beside my mail box each Friday afternoon.” The column about the dog Phoebe is truly worthy of Pulitzer prize consideration.

Another gem she wrote a few weeks ago was the column about growing up before she had a refrigerator. Could it be true that this column was inspired by the monumental Eugene O”Neil drama “The Iceman Cometh” (through the back door, though)?

Kol hakavod, Rosanne. Looking forward to more columns, and perhaps Lehitraot Ba-aretz?

Bernard Roth
Fair Lawn

Spread the vaccine around the world

There has been discussion about the importance of everyone getting boosted. I believe, as does the director of the World Health Organization, that spending money and resources on boosters is not the right approach.

I am not questioning whether or not boosters are effective. I think that is not the issue. America (and Israel) are both countries with plenty of vaccines for anyone who wants one. The priority now should be getting vaccines to countries that are not as fortunate. Now, I’m not even saying this from a purely altruistic perspective about how we need to care for others (although our society could do with more caring for people outside our circles). I’m saying it from a pragmatic, looking-out-for-ourselves perspective.

The new variant developed in South Africa, a country where only roughly a quarter of the population is fully vaccinated. We should not be surprised that countries where covid has free rein are fertile grounds for new variants. Right now, America and Israel’s playbook seems to be to let the rest of the world be a breeding ground for covid and then, once a new variant has developed, close the borders, long after doing so had any chance of preventing its spread and then give everyone boosters (Israel is up to dose 4 already).

Using our resources to disseminate the vaccine more globally is a better plan for us, and of course, for all those countries that so desperately need it.

Yaakov Blau

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a response to Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer’s response. This will be the last letter on the subject that we publish.]

‘I read with dismay’

I read with dismay the response written by Rabbi Engelmayer to my letter printed in the Jewish Standard of December 31, 2021, “Seeing red on covid op-ed”.

Contrary to what Rabbi Engelmayer wrote, I did not state, that his column should be discounted due the fact that poorer countries suffered a higher number of deaths due to Covid on a per capita scale than the U.S.. I did write that the reader should recognize that his column is Opinion and as such, not unbiased. He carefully chooses his facts and the way he presented them in his Opinion piece.

Where in my letter, Rabbi Engelmayer, did I state that the deaths were not a serious concern? His use of sarcasm does not negate the facts as I wrote them. His column should be discounted on the questionable honesty and the way he presents his opinions and distortions. His purpose is to present his views to the reader and pass them on to be accepted as truths.

The fact that something is widely reported does not necessarily make it true contrary to another claim. Two current manifestations of this were/are, “Two White men attacked me”, from Jussie Smollett and the continuing refrain “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”.

Contrary to his assertion, I did read the citations cited by the rabbi and they basically concerned challenges to Mandates. These challenges are largely coming from Conservatives, therefore fit the designation by him of “right-wing” and Republicans. Did/do all of those against the mandates and those seeking exemptions, fit into these categories?

Just because data is supplied by Fox News does not automatically negate their accuracy or validity, anymore than accepting the data supplied by the CDC is ipso facto, irrefutably true. Google too is not the arbiter of truth and impartiality. One may refer to Google when seeking facts but their Board decides what will be distributed and in what order. They can decide what can be read.

Neither the New York Times nor NPR are “Lily-White” when it comes to truth, journalism and the unbiased presentation of facts.

I must have read a condensed version of the rabbi’s response to “this writer”. Somehow I missed the wording accepting my challenge and directing me to the location of the source(s) proving the assertions concerning Republican versus Democrat covid deaths and vaccinations. It is not the purview of the reader to provide the facts to prove what the writer seeks to state. The reader may want to check the facts as stated, but that is a personal decision. Follow your own advice, rabbi, “Google it” and refer me/us to your source(s).

Rabbi Engelmayer uses an abbreviated quote that changes the meaning and intent of what Judge Schelp’s ruling stated. The November 30 ruling that Rabbi Engelmayer refers to as, “I even quoted the judge as saying, among other bizarre statements, that ‘cover no longer poses the dire emergency it once did(.)’”, is a distortion of the truth. The quote was taken from the ruling by Judge Schelp granting an injunction to halt a Mandate declared by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The quotes as it occurs in the ruling states, “CMS’s evidence shows COVID no longer poses. the dire emergency it once did. Seee.g. 86 Fed. Reg. at 61,583. (noting ‘newly reported COVIV-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have begun to trend downward at a national level’). The judge also referred to the 3 widely distributed vaccines. p:11 of 32 Page ID # :460.U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division.

I quote what I wrote in my original letter, “One should examine the ‘facts’ as presented in what one reads, with information that can be verified.” I have a brain that I have been trained to use and I try to read, coherently all sides of issues. There are too many “real facts” concerning Covid that change from day to day. Hopefully the readers of the Jewish Standard as well as all the other media they are exposed to, will take the time to carefully examine when they can, seek all sides of the issues and not get trapped into a politically isolated rut.

In the rabbi’s response, he referred to me six times as “the letter writer”. I find that purposely demeaning and insulting of me and a reflection on his character. “(T)he letter writer” has a name, it is Howard J. Cohn. I could have been located below my letter.

Howard J. Cohn
New Milford

read more: