A Peek Inside Charedi Life, Ignoring the Danger of the Coronavirus 

April 3, 2020

A Peek Inside Charedi Life
Thank you, Gerri Miller, for bringing to our attention this brilliant, insightful and relevant series (“‘Shtisel’s’ Shira Haas Leaves the Charedi Life in ‘Unorthodox,’ ” March 27). In a scene in one of the episodes, Haas, the actress who so powerfully plays the young woman who breaks away from her Chasidic roots, is taunted  by a secular Israeli woman who says, “Didn’t you escape from a prison?” “No!” the young woman says, as she finds herself unwittingly yet fiercely defending the way of life she has just left.

Therein lies the paradox of many of those who leave: There is a beauty, an authenticity, a sense of belonging and caring in the Chasidic and Misnagdic communities (ultra-Orthodox as a reference is a pejorative term because members would consider themselves just following Jewish law) that is virtually impossible to replicate in the secular as well as the more modern Jewish world. Those who leave this way of life often find themselves torn between a need to find their own path and the longing to return.  But, as writer Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” Yet, one can, as Haas does, internalize the beauty and truth.
Mina Friedler, Venice

Ignoring the Danger of the Coronavirus
I read Heather Mac Donald’s glib little screed in the March 20 issue of the Journal (“Compared to What?”). By March 26, statistics had caught up with her, dulling the edge of what must have seemed a promising attack on her perceived unnecessary fear and panic over the COVID-19 pandemic. The 41 deaths, mostly people older than 70 who “were nearing the end of their lifespans,” had zoomed past 1,300, including several health workers, and showed little sign of slowing. (Note to self:  Introduce Mac Donald to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Could be a shidduch there. Then ask Mac Donald if, at 63, she’s putting her affairs in order. Then introduce her to my 100-year-old father.)

Her coarse, right-wing disdain for the science of fighting the pandemic in favor of a natural “thinning” of the population to keep the economy humming, severely undercut what might have been an important argument — namely, bringing our sense of sacrifice and common humanity that COVID-19 has uncovered to many arenas of health and safety that cause ridiculous numbers of annual fatalities like seasonal flu, highway deaths (breathalyzers to start your car), vaccinations (mandatory) and diabetes (a war on obesity), etc. Unfortunately, Mac Donald is of the ilk that accepts these hundreds of thousands of deaths every year as the cost of doing business, and that’s not conservative, just truly sad.
Mitch Paradise, Los Angeles

Trump’s Tardy Coronavirus Response
Chinese farmers brought virus-contaminated animals to a marketplace in Wuhan, China. Humans contracted the virus at the market, medical personnel reported it to the authorities but Chinese leaders decided to cover it up. This most likely enabled the virus to spread around the world.

The Donald Trump administration downplayed the potential severity of the virus outbreak. This delayed the response and preparations by medical agencies and state and local governments to combat the virus. In January, U.S. intelligence agencies warned Trump of the impending coronavirus outbreak, but he ignored them.

Trump said the coronavirus was a “new hoax” by the Democrats. He blamed the media for “fake” reporting about it. He said it was no big deal and it would quickly disappear.

Trump is more concerned with a depressed economy adversely impacting his reelection campaign, and he is disregarding advice from medical professionals and trying to muzzle leading infectious disease authorities within the country. Governors and mayors should ignore Trump and implement their own measures, including their timelines, and not go with an arbitrary Trump timeline.

We have an inept and blundering president during a serious crisis who is endangering the lives of millions of Americans.
Donald Moskowitz, Londonderry, N.H. 

The Downside of Globalism
Why are many drugs, active ingredients and medical devices made in China (“A Nation on Pause: Shabbat Shalom,” March 20)?

Several weeks ago (it has now died down), China was thinking of using this leverage against us — and the world.  Reminds me of: I’ll give you the disease, then I’ll sell you the cure. Or I’ll give you the problem, then  I’ll sell you the solution.

Globalism turns out not to be as beneficial as it seemed. Ironic, that hydroxychloroquine sulfate used to be “Made in the U.S.!” in Corona, Calif., by Watson Laboratories, Inc. Where is it made now? Verna/Goa, India, by the same Watson Labs. Why?  Hmmm, why was President Donald Trump in India earlier this year?

Trials in Australia, South Korea and France have found success in treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine (and azithromycin and remdesivir). These drugs have been around for years.  KTTV-TV in Los Angeles reported a 52-year-old man  recovered when given treatment.

The search for a specific vaccine, however, although jump-started, still has to undergo trials before being OK’d for use. If a drug is readily available and it works, why not us it?
Enriqué Gascon, Westside Village

Coronavirus: A Poem
Hiding from interactions
Living in fear
Dealing with uncertainty,
Staying home
Choosing safety over exposure.

Postponing or canceling,
Pesach, our ingathering,
Potentially being alone.
Living in uncertainty

Reinventing our days
Sheltering in place.
“Go to your own corners”

Removing pictures from their frames
Hope for the best,
Plan for the worst,
Everyday do something;
Physical, intellectual,
Creative, reorganizing,

Finding new ways to live at home.
Reaching out in new ways
To bring companionship
Into the loneliness,
To bring social encounters
Without face to face,
Wait, that has a new meaning,
All this, incredibly unsettling,
but necessary.
Knowing that all life is a lesson,
What lesson will we learn,
What lessons are there to be learned?
My hope, prayer is that we learn.
When life gets back to normal,
What will that look like?
We’re all in this together, but separate.

If we can learn to
Respond with kindness,
Offer support of all kinds
To combat the ministries of loneliness.
Everyone is impacted, everyone
is fearful.
We are all alone together.
I wish us all good health.
Suzanne Gallant, via email

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