Rabbi Simcha Krauss, who was the rabbi at the Young Israel of Hillcrest until he retired and moved to Israel, died last week. I could write about his scholarship or how he was an important leader in the Jewish community. Instead, I will write about how he had a great impact on my life. Back in 1988, I saw an ad in the Jewish Press about a shiur being given at the Young Israel once a week. I decide to try it out. It was a small group. I was single. After a while, Rabbi Krauss decided that he was going to set me up with single girls from his shul. I couldn’t say no. I ended up marrying the third girl he set me up with. My wife, Beth, said she also felt she could not turn down Rabbi Krauss. There was no guarantee that even if Beth and I had met another time we would have ended up going out. I subsequently learned that we both had been at the same singles Shabbaton before we went out. Neither of us approached the other at the event.
I am forever grateful for Rabbi Krauss for taking the interest and the time in trying to find me a shidduch, especially since I was not a shul member. Not only does he get the z’chus (merit) of the shidduch, but it continues from generation to generation. Thus, every descendant’s existence is a result of Rabbi Krauss’s actions. There is no guarantee that I would have gotten married without his intervention. There are plenty of singles who on paper are better options who never got married.
On an unrelated topic, I would like to address the issue of COVID protocols at hospitals and rehabilitation centers. One of the lasting images of the first wave of COVID are the stories of people who died alone in the hospital without family being able to see them due to COVID-19. Another was the staggering number of deaths at rehabilitation centers and nursing homes. There was a woman on my block who caught and died from COVID while she was in a rehabilitation center. Her children were not allowed to visit her there or in the hospital.
Although the strain of the virus is now different, the challenges remain. How do you balance the safety of patients, many of whom are extremely vulnerable to serious reaction if they get the virus, with the need and desire of the patient and family to see each other?
There have been different approaches. Some places have not allowed any visitors under any circumstances. It doesn’t matter whether the person who wants to visit is fully vaccinated with a booster and has a negative test taken that day. That is clearly the safest approach. There is no guarantee that the virus will not enter the facility because it can come through staff. Although the patient cannot see visitors in person, they still have the option to see them virtually if they have a smart phone, or to speak on the phone.
Other places do allow visitors, but you have to show a negative test taken within 24 hours. The assumption is that if a person tests negative then the test was accurate, and they do not have the virus to spread it.
There may be places that allow individuals who are fully vaccinated and show no symptoms to visit the facility even in the absence of showing a negative test result. The problem is that there are many people who are asymptomatic and yet have the virus.
If I had an elderly or other high-risk family member in any of these facilities, I would not want the place to allow visitors who do not show a current negative COVID test result. While I know that these tests are not 100% accurate, it’s the best option we have under current circumstances.
It is a balancing act between protecting the physical health and the mental health of the patients. The ideal situation would be that the virus is totally under control. Until that happens this is the “lesser of two evils.”