Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

For most of us dealing with Covid-19, the virus is probably the most stressful event in our life. There can be three reactions:  anger, depression, and positive thinking.

There will be a time to write about the incompetence and arrogant behavior which led us to the current situation. However, that is for another time. I just hope that when this is over there is a full investigation of the response as was done in the 9/11 Commission, and that unlike 9/11, those who made mistakes will be held accountable.

The governor has given new meaning to the term “mass incarceration.” For years, I tried to be empathetic towards my clients who are incarcerated upstate with long sentences. This way I could address their concerns and patiently and promptly respond, even to the client who writes almost daily. Now I understand a little of what it means to be incarcerated. 

There are so many things in life we take for granted. Who would think that in our lifetime we would be prohibited from going outside (except in limited circumstances), going to work or even shul, and having to stay six feet away from others? We should have a greater appreciation of what we call the little things in life. Every day, every minute is a gift from G-d.

We now have the time to do things that we never had the time to do. How many times have I said that I needed to do something around the house, and yet it never gets done because I am busy doing something else.

We must be thankful that we have technology to help lessen the blow of the forced isolation. People can contact each other many ways such as by phone, Skype, Facebook, or other ways online. Even if we cannot physically go to a shiur, there are plenty of shiurim online at websites such as yutorah.org and TorahAnytime.com.

Truth matters.  Those who have made a career of telling lies and distortions are finding out that playbook is not working when it comes to the coronavirus.

There have been many heroes who deserve mention, some of whom were unexpected.

The most unexpected is Tucker Carlson, who has a show on Fox. He has been one of Trump’s strongest supporters. When the president and other Fox hosts such as Sean Hannity, Laura Ingram, and Trish Regan were downplaying the risk of the virus as early as the beginning of February, Tucker went on his show to say that it should be taken seriously. His most pointed statement, on March 9, helped change the dynamic when he said, “People you know will get sick; some may die. This is real.”

Then it was disclosed a few days ago that Republican Senator Richard Burr sold stock after a private briefing on the coronavirus. Carlson said that Burr should resign. It did not matter to Carlson that Burr is a Republican.

Other notable heroes include Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who admitted that the government made mistakes in not having enough tests available, and has had the courage to contradict the president right after the president made a statement in front of him.

In the absence of leadership from Washington, the governors have stepped up to the plate. Throughout the process, Governor Cuomo tried a step-by-step approach. He explained what he was doing and why he was doing it. At his press conference on Friday, when he announced that non-essential personnel could not go to work, he tried to give some hope to those who would be stuck at home by telling a personal story. His daughter was quarantined, so they ended up having the time to work through issues related to his parenting. He did not have to reveal a private part of his life in which he did something wrong. It is refreshing for a politician to admit that they did something wrong instead of saying that they are doing a perfect job. Ironically, those at Trump’s administration’s daily conferences were standing on a podium right on top of each other while telling us that we should stay six feet away from one another.

Other heroes include healthcare workers who have put themselves in harm’s way knowing that they could get the virus. They have done it sometimes with the absence of necessary equipment.

My favorite online comment is, “Good news people. Trump University is sending its best and brightest to tackle the coronavirus.”

As bad as this may seem right now, just remember what happened between 1929 and 1945. There was a depression, a world war and the Holocaust. Yet that generation saved the world and had a positive impact on the Jewish community after the war and on this country in general. They showed us not only how to overcome obstacles by surviving but also how to accomplish much.

We will get through this and will end up being a stronger nation.


Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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