In Rabbi Schonfeld’s op-ed from January 20, “The Takeaway,” he celebrates the unity of the Jewish people while lambasting those who disagree with his opinion. One of his targets was “a founding rabbi of ITIM,” which he describes as “an organization dedicated to the dismantling of the chief rabbinate in Israel.”
The founding rabbi of ITIM is Rabbi Seth Farber. Rabbi Farber was my rabbi when I lived in Jerusalem and the rabbi who officiated my wedding. He is a kind and caring man. The organization he founded is trying to make Judaism and Judaic law more palatable to a large group of Israeli society who would just as soon leave all these customs and rules in the rearview mirror. Part (though by no means all) of the problem is the attitude that the Rabbinate exhibits towards the general population.
When I got married in Israel 20 years ago, I had to deal with the Rabbinate. Most of the people I dealt with there were pleasant and respectful, but there was an individual who left a bitter taste in my mouth. He was rude to me, and to the man I brought as a witness to attest my being single; this man is a friend of my father’s, who was in his 60s at the time and had suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed in his right extremities. Had I not been pre-disposed to accepting the need for these rituals, I would have been tempted to forgo the whole ordeal. Rabbi Farber preempted this when he informed me prior to applying for my marriage license that the people with whom I’d be dealing are first and foremost bureaucrats. It is this attitude of the Rabbinate, and the resentment of the non-observant population towards the Rabbinate, that Rabbi Farber is actively working to change.
Rabbi Farber’s criticism of the Rabbinate is fair. Rabbi Schonfeld’s rejection of the criticism is acceptable. What I find unacceptable is Rabbi Schonfeld’s characterization of ITIM and Rabbi Farber.
Your January 5 edition contains an article by Moshe Hill entitled: “One Year Since a Tragic Mistake.” The same article was reprinted in the January 15 issue of the Bukharian Jewish Link, with no byline. One paragraph of the article reads: “What happened on and after January 6? Well, most tragically, a young woman named Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by a Capitol police officer. Many horrific images were revealed of smashed windows and an evacuated Congress. That’s about it.”
Here is a more accurate description of the events of the day, from one of the Congressmen evacuated from the Capitol: Led up front by fierce-looking Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, QAnon brawlers, and other shock troops of the extreme right, the crowd, in a matter of minutes, will begin to taunt, push, shove, punch, gouge, scratch, spray, smash, jab, and harass the Capitol Police force, kicking off four hours of savage, medieval-style violence that will result in eight physical breaches of the Capitol. The insurrectionists and rioters will leave at least five people dead (with several more to come by suicide of officers) and more than 140 officers wounded and injured, many of them hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries, concussions, broken arms, broken legs, broken ribs, broken vertebrae, black eyes, broken noses, lost fingers, broken necks, broken jaws, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and every manner of emotional and psychological damage.
The facts are not in dispute. Even opinion pieces must be subject to fact-checking. The description in your paper lists the tragic death of a woman who broke into the Capitol and ignores the deaths and maimings of those protecting it. Your account is a dishonor to those who gave their lives and bodies to the protection of our elected officials and our democracy. Anything less than a complete repudiation of this article will force your readers to lose all respect for the journalistic standards of the Queens (and Bukharian) Jewish Link.
Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills
An Admission of Truth
This past week’s parshah starts off with the words “Va’yishma Yisro.” Yisro heard about K’rias Yam Suf and the war with Amaleik and decides to give up his family, fame, and prestige to join B’nei Yisrael. But a lot of people heard about these great miracles. Why was Yisro the only one to join B’nei Yisrael? The Mechilta explains that Yisro tried every avodah zarah in the world before joining B’nei Yisrael. He was always searching for truth and was open and willing to see the signs. Yisro heard the same messages that everyone else did, but it was only he who was seeking truth, and thus only he who was able to internalize the messages. So much so that he was able to make monumental changes and give up the comforts of his previous life for the truth of Torah and Yiddishkeit.
Perhaps then it is appropriate that during the week of Parshas Yisro, Professor Cyrille Cohen, head of Immunology at Bar Ilan University and a member of the advisory committee for vaccines for the Israeli Government, admitted to a variety of mistakes that were made in response to the COVID pandemic.
Admissions regarding the failure of the vaccines, the irrelevance of vaccine passports, the durability of natural immunity, the inevitability of herd immunity, and the need to move on with life by learning to live with COVID were long overdue. In particular, with respect to education, Professor Cohen stated, “There is one mistake, I think, that we made, and that I’m extremely sorry for that...education was the thing we shouldn’t have touched. Never.”
While Israel last week had the dubious distinction of being the most vaccinated country while simultaneously having the most COVID infections per capita, it is refreshing to hear someone with influence on Israeli pandemic policy finally apologize and admit the truth!
For those waiting for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to follow suit...don’t hold your breath. Incredibly, the CDC has convinced itself that the lack of public trust in them is due to their poor messaging. However, Dr. Marty Makary, Professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine and noted medical commentator, summarized the CDC’s issues perfectly in a January 19 tweet that read: “The CDC’s problem is not “messaging.” It’s bad policy. Ignoring natural immunity, not releasing data, pushing boosters on healthy kids, quarantining low-risk immune students, closing schools last year and using flawed Maricopa mask study are not messaging problems. They’re flawed data problems.” Until the CDC starts putting science ahead of the Biden administration’s political agenda, don’t expect a return of the public’s confidence in them.
This letter is in response to Daniel Feldman’s letter in the January 20 issue of the Queens Jewish Link. He accuses Moshe Hill of being “reckless and myopic” for not wanting schools to comply with CDC edicts, but Mr. Feldman’s argument is utterly incoherent. While conceding that the government has been lying to the public throughout the pandemic, he nevertheless reaches the absurd conclusion that we should listen to our lying government, specifically with respect to masking.
He seems to believe that masks on small children is the ever-elusive solution to germ-spreading, but his own myopic viewpoint fails to account for the following:
Numerous studies have shown that exposure to germs builds up young children’s immune systems.
While there’s scant data available showing the effectiveness of masks outside of the N95 masks used by medical professionals, there are dozens of studies showing they explicitly don’t work.
Young children often wear their masks incorrectly, negating any potential benefits conferred by a mask. Mr. Feldman’s point about surgeons wearing masks to prevent germ spreading has no applicability within the confines of a kindergarten classroom. A surgeon discards his face mask after surgery. Many kids wear the same contaminated mask day after day.
Masking is associated with decreased socialization. A study of Hong Kong preschoolers during the 2003 SARS outbreak found that masked children decreased their socializing among peers.
A study from the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University found that masks are impairing early childhood development. Children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic.
In summary, the horrific unintended consequences of masking young children far outweigh any supposed benefit conferred by wearing them.
Shlomo Dovid Benhaim
This is in response to Daniel Feldman’s letter to the editor that critiqued Moshe Hill’s excellent article on our community’s pandemic hysteria. In making the case for masking our children, Mr. Feldman refers to kids as “germ factories” and concludes, therefore, that they should mask up. This dehumanizing description of children and the conclusion that follows, is an admission of the obvious: Mask mandates are inherently dehumanizing policies. Have our schools considered the psychological effects of implicitly treating our kids as if they are “germ factories,” as opposed to children? What kind of message are they sending to our kids, when they teach them to view their peers and themselves as impending sources of death, despite the near statistical impossibility of this actually being the case for any given child?
Mr. Feldman compares the mask to the basic sanitary practice of covering our faces when we sneeze and cough, and he refers to it as “best cautionary safety practice.” Well, isn’t it curious that mask-wearing was not considered a basic sanitary practice for viral infections before April of 2020, despite the fact that the flu poses a greater threat to children than COVID? Presumably, this was because we understood, before unelected bureaucrats and the mass media whipped us up into a state of frenzy, that forcing masses of healthy people to wear masks because they may be a carrier of a viral infection, is absurd, tyrannical, and inhumane. We also understood that it is probably not healthy to have a society, in which facial cues can’t be read, voices are difficult to hear, and neighbors are implicitly viewed as biological threats. This is all the more so a concern for vulnerable and developing children. Furthermore, we understood that even if we were to disregard these basic considerations, there is not even enough evidence to conclude the effectiveness of mask policies altogether. Indeed, evidence of their ineffectiveness has mounted since the start of the pandemic.
There are many glaring examples of misinformed hysteria perpetuated by our institutions, and the masking of children is just one of them. Clearly, our media needs more voices of perspective like Moshe Hill, not less.
It is my understanding that the Kew Gardens Hills Mikveh will be open in a limited capacity during construction.
Furthermore, there is the Briarwood mikvah, a beautiful facility within walking distance if necessary. There is the exquisite Beth Gavriel Mikvah, also not very far. Both are viable alternatives.
Additionally, to my understanding, Rabbi Friedman and Rabbi Savitsky have mikvaos in their shuls for men.
To my understanding, the KGH Mikveh Committee will reveal these details in the future.
P.S. The current KGH Mikveh has many issues other than esthetics that require the renovations.
Did President Biden and Vice President Harris reassign South Park’s Officer Barbrady to the United States/Mexican Border to assist the Border Patrol security forces? In response to a question from a reporter who wanted to see firsthand what was going on, Officer Barbrady said, “Nothing to see here, move along.”
Over one million illegal immigrants smiled as they also took Officer Barbrady’s advice in 2021 and continued to move along across the border. Even more will do the same in 2022. There’s no time to test for or take any vaccines to deal with COVID-19. There’s no need to carry any ID cards when traveling around the nation that they have been vaccinated.
Great Neck, New York
Mr. Hecht has now finally come to the realization that there is no longer such a thing as a “moderate” Democrat. The radical Marxists have completely taken over the Party – from President Biden all the way on down. The entire administration is full of them.
Tax and spend. Full government takeover of everything. It started with education, then healthcare, and now they are trying to federalize our elections. What’s next?
In New York City, as Mr. Hecht correctly points out, non-citizens are now permitted to vote in local and state elections. Citizens no longer have rights and privileges that separate them from non-citizens. Illegals can even fly commercially without ID, while the Democrats scream from the rooftop that asking for ID is racist. Yet, every citizen of this country must show one to get on a plane.
Like Reagan, Mr. Hecht, the Democrat Party left you. It’s about time you came to that conclusion.