Yisroel in the (Viral) World

The Pesikta deRav Kahana that we have been following commences with the general lesson that when Yisroel rejoices there is healing for all mankind. When Sarah gave birth to Yitschok, all barren women conceived and all maladies were healed – for everyone. Then the Pesikta continues about the special relationship of Yisroel with HaShem, like a marriage.

As we approach Rosh HaShana, our New Year and the world’s birthday, we keep in mind how we live in our special connection through Torah and how we live in the world. We are especially challenged this year, as we both want to keep our traditional way of celebrating and also are mindful of our human responsibilities for the safety of our communities and everyone else. This virus threatens us and everyone around us.

So let me make transparent how I am thinking about our treatments and our training.

First, the treatments: As a community clinic, it is our absolute responsibility to safeguard our staff and our clients. From the moment we “reopened” after the first lockdown, we have been keeping strict compliance with the rules of distancing, masks in public areas, and sanitizing. Here is an opportunity to express gratitude to Naama, Rivkah and the entire staff for maintaining this compliance. I do not think such guidelines are adequate to maintain safety during the lockdown which is about to be enforced. As a public clinic we are guided by the official stance of the Health Ministry. As individuals, we undoubtedly entertain a wide spectrum of opinions about the facts, their interpretation and their ramifications. None of these opinions can enter into decisions about the clinic – only official policy. 

As director, it is my decision that when the Ministry requires a lockdown, the clinic will be closed. This means NO staff or therapists or clients will enter the premises, and business will continue remote, as it did in the first lockdown. This will start when the lockdown starts; we are all awaiting the announcement of the date (and admittedly confused about the process of making that decision).  I am aware of the impact of this closure on some cases. I am giving first priority to safety, including the safety of the girls residing on the campus. I do not want our clinic’s activity to spread the virus in any way. It looks like the impact will be lessened by the fact that we would be closed anyway from Yom Kippur until after Succos. I hope that we will be able to reopen after Succos.

Second – Teaching: The first semester will be taught entirely remote. I want us to have as smooth a semester as possible, and I do not want to wobble back and forth depending on further lockdowns or possible quarantine of teachers of class members. Such disruptions, which I feel are highly likely, create uncertainty from week to week which would be detrimental  to our teaching. We can decide about the second semester once we see how the winter progresses.

We are living through a difficult and uncertain time. I want to wish us all כתיבה וחתימה טובה, may we learn from our dealing with this crisis and become stronger in our understanding about our place together in our communities and in the world.