What Will it Take For This Country to Come Together? Another Pearl Harbor?

The United States has always been a land of division. But even with that differences, we have found something to make bridge those divides.

Today is the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Like 9/11 sixty years later, it was a moment in time in which all Americans, regardless of labels or identity, were one.

These days, the cracks are the deepest it has been in generations. We are on the verge, if things go a certain way, of being the former United States of America. Between that and Covid-19, this nation may go down in history as the modern democratic experiment that failed. We know what we need to do to kick this virus to the curb and return to normalcy. We need to get vaccinated, wear our masks, wash our hands, and social distance when necessary.

It’s not rocket science. But there are some in this country who are either too proud, too foolish, or too stupid to realize this. If and when America goes down Hindenburg style, the blame will be on those who were unwilling to take the most simple of steps to prevent our downfall.

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I Can’t Disagree With Tom Cruise

For months, we have been warned that Covid-19 is a dangerous airborne disease. As of today, 309,000 Americans have lost their lives.

On the set of Mission: Impossible 7, star Tom Cruise reemed out two crew members for ignoring the social distancing measures.

Warning: the audio contains bleeped out expletives.

To be completely honest, he is not the reason that I go out to the movie theater (when they were open). The last movie of his that I saw was A Few Good Men.

All of that aside, I can’t disagree with him. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people whose salaries come from the making of movies and television shows. Frankly, given the current economic climate, those of us who are still employed and earning a decent salary should not be looking a gift horse in the mouth. If keeping that job and that paycheck means abiding by the recommendations, I would rather make those adjustments than be out of work.

Some of those responding to the recording said that Cruise could have made his point without cursing. Honestly, if I was in his shoes, I would have dropped a few f-bombs of my own.

If we are to defeat this virus and return to a state of semi-normalcy, we need to take it seriously. Unfortunately, there are some people who have to learn the hard way.

WFH Office on the East River is Brilliant

Before Covid-19, working from home for some of us happened only occasionally. Since March, those of us who are still employed and can work from home have adjusted to a much shorter commute.

But, there is a catch. Parents have had to balance their jobs while making sure that their children continue to receive a decent education. Which as any number of parents have attested to over the last few months, is far from easy.

The comedy group Improv Everywhere decided to do their own spin on the topic on New York City’s East River.

This is a brilliant idea. Whomever came up with it is a genius. It’s nice to know that even in these difficult times, we can still laugh and find a reason to smile.

Thanks, Improv Everywhere.

It’s About Common Sense, Not Religion

If we have learned nothing else about Covid-19 since March, it is that the virus neither knows or cares about the labels and boundaries that human beings have created.

In New York City, there are about a dozen zip codes in both Brooklyn and Queens in which there is a rise in Covid-19 cases. Most of these neighborhoods have a large population of Orthodox Jews. Some have claimed that the city’s response is anti-Semitic.

My personal reaction is the claim is mixed. If I felt it was truly anti-Semitic response, I would be direct in saying so. But it is not antisemitism, it is common sense. If anything, their reactions only amplify the anti-Semitic lies and imagery. Being learned in the text and customs of any religion does not stop this disease. Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently will stop this disease.

However, the residents of these zip codes are not completely to blame. If the news reports are true, there are not enough Yiddish speaking tracers to reach out to the community. That failure falls firmly on the shoulders of the Mayor and other officials.

The problem with Covid-19 is that common sense and logic are replaced by fear and anxiety. While those responses are normal, given the circumstances, they will not help us in the long run. We need a clear head and a well constructed plan if we are able to return to some sense of normalcy.

A Very Covid-19 Rosh Hashanah

As indestructible as human beings believe we are, Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that she will always be one step ahead of us.

Next weekend is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Covid-19 has forced Jewish instuitions to rework how to approach one of the most important days of the year.

To say that it will feel weird is an understatement. Traditional holiday services will be limited and many will turn to Zoom to participate virtually. Instead of getting together with family and friends, social distancing and wearing masks will continue to be the norm.

To those who celebrate, wherever you are and whatever you do, have a sweet and Happy New Year.

Is it Fair to Blame College Kids for Universities Closing?

College, for many of us, was one those times in our lives that we will never forget. The bridge between adolescence and adulthood, it will forever shape the rest our lives.

Like everything else, Covid-19 has forced universities to rethink the standard college experience. When the students were sent home back in the spring, there was a question of what would happen come the fall semester.

We now know the answer. Some colleges opened for a short time and then closed. Others have remained open, but have instituted strict policies to try to limit the spread of the disease.

The question is, why is the blame solely put on students when the universities are forced to close?

Some argue that the reason that it is purely money motivated. The money is made by charging the students (and their parents by extension) tuition. Which makes sense. At the end of the day, it is a business and it’s clients are those who are there to get an education.

The easiest finger to point is at the kids themselves. Over the last few weeks, there have been several news reports of college parties, which resulted in outbreaks. While the logic is clear to adults, I would wager that the students have a different perspective.

Going to college is more than the academic experience and the degree that follows. It is an opportunity test the waters of independence and grow outside of the confines of one’s immediate family. Being forced to go back home and attend classes virtually is not the same as being on campus.

Now granted, it was stupid to break the distancing rules, knowing full well how quickly Covid-19 can spread. But after months of being forced to stay home, I can only imagine the relief and freedom that comes with going back to the school.

That being said, the administrators who chose to re-open their schools knew what risks came with their decisions. But, they made it anyway. If there is any blame to place, it is both on the college for re-opening and the students who partied, forgetting that Covid-19 is alive and well in 2020.

Covid-19: You Know Who’s Tulsa Rally & the Woman Who Learned the Hard Way

If there is one thing I have come to appreciate in the last few months, it is that the scientists are the truth-tellers. The information they have about Covid-19 may change as new facts come to light, but the basic truths about this disease remain unchanged.

I’m not usually the type of person to smugly remark “told you so” when someone does something stupid, but sometimes, it is warranted. According to an article on Buzzfeed, a woman in Florida had a girls night out with fifteen of her friends. All have tested positive for the virus.

Speaking of, you know who’s rally in Tulsa is scheduled for Saturday. According to his campaign officials, the event is nearly full. Public health officials are concerned because the number of cases in Oklahoma is rising fast. Attendees are not required to wear masks or follow social distancing rules. They also must sign a waver when they register for tickets. The waver is as follows:

“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” the disclaimer reads. By attending the rally, it goes on, “guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19” and “agree not to hold the campaign or venue liable”.

What sticks out to me is that the people who are running the campaign know exactly what they are doing. They know that the risk of getting sick rises exponentially when one is in an indoor venue with thousands of other people while ignoring the warnings from the scientific and medical communities. The fact that attendees are required to sign the waiver speaks volumes.

The fact is that this virus has killed and will continue to kill. Given that we know that much, our political leaders should be doing all they can to minimize the number of deaths. They should not be holding massive rallies, knowing full well the damage this disease can cause. The fact that you know who is holding this rally, in spite of this knowledge, tells me everything I need to know about his leadership abilities.

G-d help us if he wins another term in November.

Bill de Blasio, the Hypocrite: Williamsburg vs the Rest of the City

For the last two months or so, social distancing has been the norm.

Last week, I wrote about the antisemitic accusation that New York City Bill de Blasio leveled at the entire Jewish community of New York City for breaking the social distancing rules. While the specific synagogue at the center of the brouhaha has apologized for their lack of forethought, this does nothing to nullify the Mayor’s statement.

This past weekend was absolutely perfect weather-wise in the city. It was everything one would ask for a weekend in May. If we were not living through the Covid-19 pandemic, no one would be thinking twice about getting out. But we are living through a pandemic and that requires us to think twice about leaving the house for anything but basic necessities.

Across the city, many took advantage of the warm weather.

I don’t have a problem with people getting out. If I had not already had plans, I would have done so myself. What I do have a problem with is the lack of sweeping prejudicial generalizations of those who were outside on Sunday. Where was the literal nagging finger, accusing city residents of ignoring the social distancing rules?

There was none.

Bill de Blasio is a hypocrite.

Bill de Blasio, the Anti Semite?

I think it is fair to say that anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence these days would say that Covid-19 has forced all of us to adjust how we live. I think that it is also fair to say that given the current crisis, it would behoove those in the halls of power to work together.

Last night was the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who according to press reports, died from complications from Covid-19. As is the custom in Hasidic and Orthodox Judaism, the funeral was public with thousands of mourners crowding the streets in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. In normal times, this would be a non-news issue for all but the local community. But we are not living in normal times.

According to an article in Gothamist, the Police department knew about this before hand. But yet, Mayor Bill de Blasio accused the entire Jewish community of New York City of breaking the social distancing rules.

The problem that I have with his accusation is that instead of specifically pointing the finger at those in attendance, he blamed every Jew in New York City. I am a Jew and I live in New York City. Was I at this funeral? No. He should be putting the blame on those who were there, not on all practitioners of that particular religious identity. He should have also spoken to his police officials before making this kind of accusations.

Last week was Yom Hashoah. Given our current political climate, the recent climactic (and bloody) events in Jewish history and the extreme rise in antisemitism, I would think twice before making such a comment.

Which is why I did not vote for this man and will be more than happy to see him out of office when his term ends.

How Soon is Too Soon to Re-Open?

Human beings are not meant to be anti-social, nor are we meant to be locked in our homes nearly 24/7.

But Covid-19 has forced both upon us.

As this disease continues to ravage our country and our world, the question that many are asking is when can we re-open. I wish the answer was simple, but we all know that it is not.

In California, the beaches were full over the weekend, despite warnings from the CDC and government officials.

I get it, I truly do. If it was still February (where the weather in my neck of the woods is generally wet and cold), staying home would be easy. But with summer and warm weather on the horizon, the call of the beaches, the pools and outside activities maybe too much to ignore.

The problem is that if we go back to a pre-Covid-19 normal, the handle that we finally have on this disease may at best, reduce drastically or at worst, disappear altogether. Cases will skyrocket, our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed and the number of dead will be straight out of our nightmares.

I hate to say it, but we must resist the urge to re-open too soon. If we do, I am afraid that the consequences and the lives lost will be too many to count.

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