Is California A Free State? By Dennis Prager and what do our leaders tell us about taking the vaccine and It’s Official: Products from Judea and Samaria Sold in US Now Labeled ‘Made in Israel’ By David Israel and what is the strangest thing that anyone has survived? and Vaccinated in Israel, I feel incredibly appreciative, and I’m daring to hope by David Horovitz
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
Vaccinated in Israel, I feel incredibly appreciative, and I'm daring to hope
A chain of wise and wonderful people, abroad and here, inside a year, managed to find a counter to COVID and have now started to deliver it. May the rest of the planet follow suit
By DAVID HOROVITZ
I have a tiny, blessed ache in my right arm. May it signal the beginning of the end of our common nightmare.
I've just sat down at my desk having been vaccinated against COVID-19, a few minutes ago, by the staff of the Maccabi health fund at Jerusalem's Arena stadium — an indoor sports and concert facility newly pressed into pandemic battle service.
I'm close to, but not yet over 60, but Maccabi is now vaccinating over 55s with medical issues, and my very mild asthma apparently counts, since I was texted by Maccabi to make an appointment along with my wife. And we were then permitted to schedule that appointment together with the one already set for my parents, who are both in their late 80s.
So, off we went to the Arena, in two cars — the four of us, that is, along with my mother's unflappable and resourceful full-time carer, together with my sister and brother-in-law (both over 60, both already vaccinated by the Meuhedet HMO).
We were half-dreading the very complex process of transitioning our two wheelchair-bound parents from home to car to vaccination center and back, so my wife had done an advance run, working out the logistics of where we'd be able to stop on the narrowish street leading to the stadium.
I anticipated traffic jams outside, and then long lines of inevitably impatient, worried and frazzled folks, in far too close proximity, awaiting the protective injection.
Traffic there certainly was, but it moved along fairly smoothly. We were not even honked at as we carefully transferred our parents from passenger seats to wheelchairs. A parking attendant stepped in to direct me and my brother-in-law to a vacant parking area, while the rest of our little group took the elevator to the Arena entrance area.
A country notorious for bureaucratic red tape has set up an unprecedented nationwide vaccination operation in an instant — computer databases whirring into logistical operation, vaccination centers fitted out, staff hired and trained, millions of precious vaccine doses purchased, imported and distributed
By the time I rejoined them they had been given a number, and my wife was filling out a brief form for each of us — half a dozen yes/no questions about allergies, temperatures and other basics. A big screen showed 50 people ahead of us, but the numbers were ticking over fast. The waiting time was plainly going to be short.
Except we didn't wait at all. A staffer, seeing the wheelchairs, ushered us straight to one of the booths where the vaccinating was in full flow. Itai, a paramedic, and Dror, his colleague, doublechecked our forms, switching easily from Hebrew to English to make sure my folks understood everything, and unfussily administered the shots, taking the greatest of care with my rather fragile mom. Then they sent us on our way, with the injunction to wait 15 minutes in the entrance area as a safety precaution.
The process was so spectacularly smooth that I know others' experiences cannot and will not all be so untroubled. But I also know that Israel will have vaccinated something like a tenth of the populace before the end of the week if current rates are maintained, and we only started the drive, with an initial limited focus on healthcare workers, 10 days ago.
A country notorious for bureaucratic red tape has set up an unprecedented nationwide vaccination operation in an instant — computer databases whirring into logistical operation, vaccination centers fitted out, staff hired and trained, millions of precious vaccine doses purchased, imported and distributed.
It's an operation working so effectively that the most minor of snafus, in which a total of a few hundred of the refrigerated Pfizer doses went to waste because they passed their expiration date, has made headlines.
Incidentally, we must have just missed President Reuven Rivlin, who called in at the Arena at around the same time as we were there. "I must say that it is very exciting to be here," he said. "It is less than two weeks since the vaccination program began, and here we are in your buzzing beehive of activity, where 2,000 people are vaccinated every hour – more than 100,000 Israelis so far." Absolutely, Mr. President.
The Times of Israel has reported concerns that the current remarkable nationwide 150,000-shots-a-day pace may slow early next month, as stocks run low, before accelerating again in February. I've also seen suggestions that the vaccine manufacturers are eager to ensure Israel can maintain its world-leading process, so that the entire nation can serve as a model and a statistical test case for the rest of the planet.
Naturally, in a nation heading into its fourth election in two years, the race between virus and vaccine — as new cases of contagion spike amid the current lockdown — is being widely viewed through a political filter, too: Will Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's starring role as both vaccine-supply negotiator-in-chief and role model First Vaccinee immunize him from election defeat in March?
But those are issues for another moment, and doubtless for other columns.
For now, I'd simply like to say a thank you — to the whole chain of wise and wonderful people abroad and at home who, inside a year, managed to find a counter to COVID-19 and have now started to deliver it. I'd like to recognize my privilege in being an early recipient, and appreciate how Israel's core get-it-done capacity has triumphed over all obstacles thus far. I'd like to hope the rest of humanity can follow suit as quickly and safely as possible. I'd like to wish that world leaders henceforth prioritize treatment and, crucially, R&D and preventative measures to safeguard humanity and our planet — massively reallocating resources, now that science has demonstrated its awesome capabilities when properly funded and supported.
My mother had not been out of the house except for medical appointments since March. Her journey today, and her second trip, three weeks from now, I pray, will be her liberation. We haven't hugged her since March either. But today, when we brought her home, I allowed myself to kiss her gently, briefly on her head, through my mask and her hat.
The whole vaccination expedition took about as long as it's taken me to write this column. And, in case you were wondering, that little ache in my arm has gone.
From birth, this guy was completely normal and nothing on the physical indicators was radically different from peers. As a teenager, Carlos contacted a bad company and started using alcohol and drugs. The tragedy that changed his life occurred when he was 14 years old. Being in a state of alcohol and drug intoxication, Carlos stole a car and got into an accident. During the collision, the teenager flew through the windshield and hit his head on the asphalt. The doctors managed to save his life, but a significant fragment of the skull and brain had to be removed.
Brain Injuries Are Not Always Deadly
A noteworthy fact is that after all operations and period of rehabilitation, the patient, who had lost much of the brain, did not change at all. He retained all the memories and mental abilities. Despite the fact that Carlos Rodriguez is a "man without a brain" (he clearly demonstrates the photo in the article), he continues to smile, is able to support conversation on various topics, quickly and appropriately answers the questions posed. Scientists today do not have a precise explanation of how one can live without the brain and retain most of the mental functions. A popular hypothesis in the scientific community is that the nerve endings in the abdominal part are partially replaced by the traditional organ of thinking.
It's Official: Products from Judea and Samaria Sold in US Now Labeled 'Made in Israel'
The US Customs and Border Protection agency on Wednesday issued a "Statement on Country of Origin Markings for Israeli and Palestinian Goods" that reads:
Today, US Customs and Border Protection published a Federal Register Notice to ensure that country of origin markings for Israeli and Palestinian goods are consistent with the United States' foreign policy approach. The notice establishes that producers within certain areas designated in the Oslo Accords and the Hebron Protocol must mark their goods as "Israel," "Product of Israel," or "Made in Israel" when exporting those goods to the United States. Parties that import these goods into the United States are responsible for ensuring compliance with the marking requirements.
At a time when several EU countries are compelling their stores to label products from the Jewish settlements in ways that distinguish them from Israeli products from the pre-1967 border, the Trump administration has gone out of its way to remove this distinction.
The US Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of the country's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.
Prior to the recent Trump decision, products from the settlements could not be sold as made in Israel in the US on the grounds that this violated the principle of truth in advertising – since the settlements are not legally part of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a chance to change this after his most recent reelection, but was ordered not to do it by… the Trump administration.
The CBP clarified that the Federal Register Notice was "based upon guidance from the US Department of State that the country of origin marking requirements for goods produced in certain areas of the West Bank be updated to reflect the fact that producers in these areas operate within the economic and administrative framework of Israel."
Last November, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that products made in the Jewish settlements of Judea and Samaria would be labeled "Made in Israel," revoking the US policy of labeling them "Made in West Bank."
PA Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad al-Malki said at the time that Secretary Pompeo's announcement represented a "de facto US recognition of Israel's annexation of the illegal settlements to its sovereignty." He added that the announcement necessitated immediate rejection at the international level, declaring: "It is a crime and those responsible for it must be punished, whoever and wherever they are."
Meanwhile, according to the CBP, "goods produced in areas of the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority maintains relevant authorities shall be marked as products of 'West Bank' and goods produced in Gaza shall be marked as products of 'Gaza.'"
CBP authorized a transition period of 90 days for importers to implement markings consistent with this notice.
Finally: as with a long list of pro-Israel moves on the part of President Donald Trump, since, for the most part, they were created by an executive order, the incoming Biden administration will have the power to change them with its own executive order. But every such change would come at some political cost, especially in the sensitive area of settlements' products, considering the large number of states that have passed anti-BDS laws. The Biden folks might decide to let the CBP new rules stand, at least for the time being.
What Do Poskim Say About The Covid-19 Vaccine?
By Rabbi Dr. Aaron E. Glatt - 9 Tevet 5781 – December 24, 2020 0
The development of two mRNA Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – both of which have received FDA emergency-use authorization – is a most generous gift from Hashem. Despite the many unanswered questions, these vaccines (and potentially others) have the potential to save millions of lives worldwide.
But only if we take them. It is therefore critical that we know the opinion of halachic experts on these vaccines. Their opinion, the opinion of gedolim representing all sectors of Orthodoxy, is based on two large prospective, double-blind trials – conducted separately and independently – that conclusively demonstrated that the new vaccines are both very safe and highly efficacious.
Even well-designed trials can't guarantee that unexpected or rare complications will never occur, but halacha demands that we evaluate medications and treatments in the context of both known and unknown risks and benefits. So keeping in mind the large number of deaths and serious complications associated with Covid-19, the relatively limited and meager medications available to treat this illness, and the statistically significant value of these vaccines, what do poskim say about taking these vaccines?
Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita, and Rav Mordechai Willig, shlita – with the support of Rav Dovid Cohen, shlita – have said the following in a combined Orthodox Union/Rabbinical Council of America statement:
"Pursuant to the advice of your personal health care provider, the Torah obligation to preserve our lives and the lives of others requires us to vaccinate for COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine becomes available" (emphasis added).
Rav Asher Weiss, shlita – in a detailed teshuvah available in Hebrew, as well as in an on-line English shiur – stated that he strongly recommends taking the vaccine.
Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita; Rav Gershon Edelstein, shlita; and Rav Shalom Cohen, shlita – three of the most prominent Israeli chareidi rabbanim – have all stated that anyone who can get the vaccine should take it. (Rav Chaim, shlita, can be seen saying this on video.)
Finally, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlita, in a handwritten teshuvah, states that he has no personal opinion on the matter but recommends that each individual ask his or her doctor and follow the doctor's advice.
Thus, the essentially unanimous psak of these contemporary gedolim from across the Orthodox spectrum is that taking these vaccines if your physician advises it is highly recommended.
I would add that a person who saves a single life is considered as to have saved the entire world. We are a nation of gomlei chassadim; think of how many lives we will save if we all get vaccinated as soon as possible.
We are about to be given the privilege and opportunity to do this great mitzvah. Let us all look forward in anticipation of getting vaccinated and say when we receive the shot:
"May it be Your will, dear G-d, that our getting vaccinated will help save the lives of many people we love and people we have never even met – people of all colors and religions – and may we make a huge Kiddush Hashem in doing so. Amen."
I'm writing this column having just returned home to California after five days in Florida. For the first time since my first trip to Los Angeles in 1974 and moving there two years later, I dreaded going to California.
That first trip, as a 25-year-old New Yorker, I experienced the palpable excitement looking at the American Airlines flight board at JFK airport and seeing "Los Angeles." For most Americans, the very name "California" elicited excitement, wonder, even envy, and most of all… freedom. While America always represented freedom, within America, California exemplified freedom most of all.
Yet, here I am, sitting in a state where corruption reigns (one of the leading Democrats of the last half-century told me years ago that politicians in California are window dressing; the real power in California is wielded by unions) and where, for nine months, normal life has been shut down, schools have been closed, and small businesses have been destroyed in unprecedented numbers.
For five days in Florida, a state governed by the pro-freedom party, I went anywhere I wanted. First and foremost, I could eat both inside and outside restaurants. At one of them, when I stood up to take photos of people dining, a patron who recognized me walked over and said, "I assume you're just taking pictures of people eating in a restaurant." That's exactly what I was doing. I even took my two grandchildren to a bowling alley, which was filled with people enjoying themselves playing myriad arcade games as well as bowling.
None of that is allowed almost anywhere in California. It is becoming a police state, rooted in deception and irrationality.
Restaurants have been shut down (except for takeout orders), even for outdoor dining, for no scientific reason. After ordering Los Angeles county restaurants closed, the health authorities of Los Angeles county acknowledged in court that they had no evidence that outdoor dining was dangerous; they ordered restaurants closed, even to outdoor dining, solely in order to keep people home.
The left's claim to "follow the science" is a lie. The left does not follow science; it follows scientists it agrees with and dismisses all other scientists as "anti-science."
Science does not say that eating inside a restaurant at least six feet from other diners, let alone outside a restaurant, is potentially fatal, but eating inside an airplane inches from strangers is safe.
Science does not say mass protests during a pandemic (when people are constantly told to social distance) are a health benefit, but left-wing scientists say they are – when directed against racism. In June, Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, tweeted: "In this moment the public health risks of not protesting to demand an end to systemic racism greatly exceed the harms of the virus."
She cited the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Frieden: "The threat to Covid control from protesting outside is tiny compared to the threat to Covid control created when governments act in ways that lose community trust. People can protest peacefully AND work together to stop Covid. Violence harms public health."
Even The New York Times, in July, acknowledged the double standard: "Public health experts decried the anti-lockdown protests as dangerous gatherings in a pandemic. Health experts seem less comfortable doing so now that the marches are against racism."
Science does not say, "Men give birth." But the left routinely argues that "science says" they do and that "science says" there are more than two sexes – many more, in fact.
The last time I felt I was leaving a free society and entering an unfree one was when I visited the communist countries of Eastern Europe. As a graduate student majoring in communism during the Cold War, I would travel through the countries known as Soviet satellites: Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. In the middle of my trips, I would stop in Austria to breathe free air.
Never did I imagine I would ever experience anything analogous in America, the land of the free, the land of the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell. But I did this week when leaving Florida and returning to California.
There is no question that America is becoming, if it hasn't already become, two countries: one that values liberty – from small businesses being allowed to operate to people being allowed to say what they believe – and one that has contempt for liberty.
I am asked almost daily by friends around the country and by callers to my radio show whether I intend to stay in California. Were it not for all the close friends who live here and the synagogue a few friends and I founded, the answer would be no. But at a given point, I'm sure I will leave this Soviet satellite for a free state. The bigger and far more important question is: How long will the Soviet states of America and the free states of America remain the United States of America?
See you tomorrow bli neder as we try to survive this latest knockdown