This column is typically meant to be a warm and fuzzy feel-good article. But I’m not feeling warm nor am I feeling fuzzy right now. I generally like to stay away from politics and other controversial topics, but I’m about to explode. I’m hoping that writing this article will be some sort of catharsis for me.
One of my co-workers is an anti-vaxxer. During a staff meeting, when we were discussing how we can best meet the needs of our clients, she decided to interrupt everything to talk about an article she had recently read. Israel had been in an unusual state at that time. On one hand, millions of citizens were vaccinating with the goal of reaching herd immunity. As a result, the rate of morbidity should have been on the decline. But on the other hand, the highly-contagious British mutation was running wild throughout the country, causing a steep spike in the number of cases of corona. At the time of this writing, the fruits of the vaccination program are finally being seen and the number of infections is going down significantly. Most cities have turned green and many hospitals are closing down their corona wards. Baruch Hashem. Hodu laHashem ki tov. But the incident that I am writing about took place several weeks ago when numbers were still high and it wasn’t clear in which direction things were headed.
My co-worker realized that just maybe it would be more appropriate for her to wait until our meeting ended before sharing the “wisdom” she gleaned from the article. At the conclusion of our meeting she read an article out loud, from which I am still reeling weeks later. The author introduced herself as someone who is not a corona denier, nor is she an anti-vaxxer. However, she feels very uncomfortable with the green badge program that has been handed down by the powers that be. In this program, a distinction is made between those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from corona, and those who haven’t. There are certain (but by far not all) venues that are only open to those who have vaccinated or recovered from the virus. For example, a green badge is needed to enter gyms, swimming pools, cafes, hotels, and cultural events. The author expressed great discomfort with the process of relegating the unvaccinated to the status of second-class citizens through an unfair selectzia process. No! This is not a typo or an error of any kind. She compares the green badge program designed to protect people from catching a potentially virulent illness to the selectzia of a Nazi casually choosing who will go to their deaths with the point of a finger. I was shocked! I was sickened! I nearly passed out. When she finished reading her repugnant masterpiece, I told her that one cannot compare the green badge program to what transpired during the Holocaust. She stated emphatically that one most certainly can.
I know we are living in a crazy upside-down world. Certain norms of society that were once taken for granted are being fed continuously into the global shredder. Nothing is sacrosanct or untouchable any longer. Political correctness is the new avoda zara which makes people think, speak, and behave in the most irrational ways, not dissimilar from the irrational bowing down to idols in the days of yore. While many cannot understand how someone can possibly view an idol, tree, or rock as a god, they don’t see that they irrationally treat political correctness as a holy god as well. How can the difference between the green badge program and Mengele’s selectzia not be overwhelmingly clear? How can these two things be mentioned in the same breath? The only motivation that Mengele had was to murder Jews. Can anyone honestly believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the members of our government have that same motivation? Is it not clear that they are trying to save the lives of Jews? During the Holocaust, a Jew that was sent to the wrong line could do absolutely nothing to save himself and prevent himself from being sent to the gas chambers. There was no way out. What does this have to do with a plan to prevent disease transmission, even if one does not view the vaccine as being effective? Am I not writing the obvious?
Truthfully, I think our government is actually bending over backwards to accommodate those who don’t vaccinate as well. They do allow them into many venues. For example, they are allowed to eat in restaurants, but in the outdoor seating area. Doesn’t that make sense? The government is trying to accommodate them but without risking the lives of others. They are even talking about having rapid corona tests that will allow the unvaccinated into even more venues. The costs of these tests will fall on the businesses, and eventually the government may pick up the tab. Nobody is even asking that the unvaccinated pay financially for the ramifications of their choices. This seems more than fair to me.
The only way I can understand the author of that article and my co-worker’s desire to share it as proof of the invalidity of her unfortunate predicament is that they have little to no awareness of what happened during the Holocaust. It’s this lack of knowledge and understanding that I would like to change, at least in the case of my coworker. Our staff is due to have a Recreation Day in a few weeks. We usually do something light and fun, but I suggested that we go to Yad Vashem. I’m happy to report that my idea was accepted. I am hoping that a visit to Yad Vashem will be enlightening and, as a result, will heighten the sensitivity of my coworker towards Holocaust victims and survivors.
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.