Friday, June 5, 2020

Misusing the Bible Against Vaccination By Alan M. Dershowitz and European Jewish Communities and the Coronavirus Crisis By BESA CENTER and What Is the Medical Impact of the Lockdown? with Will Witt and Black Lives matter, but JEWISH LIVES AND PROPERTY DON'T

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

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. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column

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Black lifes matter, but Jewish Lives and Property Doesn't

Black lives matter, but Jewish lives and Property Doesn't

By now everyone is aware of the murder of George Floyd and the horrific cries of protest that has come out all over the world.

No one has come out on the side of the police, and the murder has justified mobs of people (primarily black) rioting and looting with full physical violence.

The good police officers that do their job are now fair game and are sitting targets for the violence. To be a police officer is now the same as being a sitting duck waiting to be hurt or killed for doing their job. And if he or she defends themselves, they have to be worried that their actions will be second-guessed as well as mobs that will lie to say that their attackers were completely innocent.

Like the police officers, another group, Jews who are property owners or visibly Jewish are now coming under the attack either for the Coronavirus or somehow being at fault for the death of George Floyd, or back to plain old no reason, just being Jewish and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Israeli-born philanthropist and activist Adam Milstein, who lives in Los Angeles, said "

The Jewish community is in denial. The fact that synagogues got tagged and Jewish businesses were looted with signs saying "Free Palestine" and "Kill the Jews" is no coincidence The rioters are Antifa and Black Matter and they are inherently antisemitic."

Johnathan Friedman, who owns Syd's Pharmacy in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles, says, "It's frustrating, we had no part in this. They had no reason to involve us. I understand the protester's cause. They are actually right. Someone was murdered and they right, but I don't see where myself and other businesses were suffering from coronavirus troubles should be attacked for something we had nothing to do with.

Masks, hoodies, sledgehammers, crowbars, baseball bats. They are the descriptions Jewish business cited when talking about how their stores were looted and ransacked and synagogues were vandalized with graffiti during riots over Shavuot. Kristallnacht comes to mind very easily. While in Germany it was state-supported, In America, the police say they can't defend the Jewish businesses they are too busy defending themselves.

Where is the outrage, where are the supporters of the Jewish people coming to our support, like in defense of George Floyd? No, the exact opposite has happened in Israel a handicapped Arab (now called a Palestinian) was killed for running from the police and the blogs and articles are filled with articles comparing George Floyd with Al-Halak (the Palestinian). We are murderers for defending ourselves in Israel and somehow we are responsible for George Floyd and Jewish lives and property are fair Game, to loot and damage and kill anyone that stands in their way.

Ideas, that help explain how the world works

The scientist, astronomer, and author, Carl Sagan, on the magic of books:
"What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic." Source: Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory

What Is the Medical Impact of the Lockdown? Will Witt

Will Witt speaks to Dr. Simone Gold about how the lockdown will likely end up far deadlier than the actual virus. Don't miss this. From Dennis Prager University

European Jewish Communities and the Coronavirus Crisis By BESA CENTER

The coronavirus crisis has had a profound impact on economic, social, and security aspects of Jewish life all over Europe. The European Jewish Congress, through its Security and Crisis Centre (SACC), provided training and education in crisis management and crisis communication for numerous Jewish communities across the continent. This enabled many communities to develop their own crisis management teams that were deployed early and assisted community leaders in providing a timely and effective response to the many challenges posed by the outbreak.


Communities quickly set up food distribution for the needy and those in quarantine, as well as trauma counseling and guidance for those most affected. The growth of antisemitic propaganda, which mixed traditional antisemitic tropes with new conspiracy theories about the spread of the virus, increased the threat of lone wolf attacks against Jewish facilities. Jewish communities all over Europe are now at their most vulnerable in both economic and security terms and require substantial assistance from the EU, their national governments, and regional authorities—not only for a return to normal but to mitigate economic hardship and prevent deadly terror attacks.

Coronavirus has taken a heavy human toll on Jewish communities across Europe, many of which lost longstanding members, leaders, and activists to the disease. While the final death toll is not yet known, it is clear that communities in France and Britain and, to a lesser extent, Italy, Belgium, and Spain, suffered many deaths. However, the effects of coronavirus are not only measured in loss of life. It has also had a profound impact on economic, social, and security aspects of almost every European Jewish community.

The institutional structure and activities of organized Jewish communities have been a major strength as well as a focal point of Jewish life throughout two millennia of Diaspora. Jews traditionally turned to the community for help at times of need, economic hardship, or war. As more and more European countries shut down their economies in early March and social life throughout Europe came to a standstill, Jews all over the continent turned to their community for help and support.

Luckily, many Jewish communities did not enter the crisis unprepared. In the aftermath of the 2012 Toulouse terror attack against a Jewish school in France, the European Jewish Congress established a Security and Crisis Centre (SACC) to enhance the security and crisis capabilities of Jewish communities across Europe. Initially located in Vienna and more recently moved to Brussels, SACC set up programs and initiatives to assist, instruct, and equip Jewish communities for crisis management. Over the past several years, SACC has conducted a range of crisis management training workshops, seminars, and realistic crisis simulations in a number of major cities all over the EU. SACC also initiated joint training for Jewish community officials and local law enforcement agencies together.

As a result, many Jewish communities developed their own crisis management teams (CMT) consisting of core community leadership assisted by local experts, ranging from security officials and medical experts to social workers and psychologists. Community crisis management teams were trained to deal with a range of potential crises and disasters, including terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and large-scale catastrophes. Although not specifically trained for a pandemic, community CMTs were mobilized at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak and provided many communities with effective crisis management and communication. This early reaction saved many lives and rapidly disseminated advice within the communities on social distancing, access to medical facilities, and psychological ways of dealing with the lockdown.

One of the social effects of the coronavirus crisis was a rapid increase in the number of people each community had to care for, as many Jews who had traditionally stayed outside formal community structures found their way back to them for both economic and moral support. Community crisis management teams were able to provide not only food, personal protective equipment, and other necessary supplies but also counseling, guidance, and other forms of social and psychological assistance to those most affected.

The economic impact of the crisis has been massive in many communities, as many members lost their jobs and have had to subsist on minimal unemployment support. Communities reacted rapidly by providing food packages for the elderly and the homebound, kosher food deliveries to hospital staff and patients, catering services and home delivery for those in quarantine, and in many cases helping to arrange short-term credits for local businesses that suffered the most during the crisis. These activities demanded more budgetary resources then are normally available at a time when much of the communities' traditional income, which is based on donations from wealthier members, was declining significantly.

Beyond its economic impact, the coronavirus crisis also had a major effect on the security of many Jewish communities all over Europe. The crisis brought in its wake a substantial rise in radical antisemitism, both online and in person. Rabid antisemites found the crisis an effective vehicle with which to disseminate their messages of hatred against Jews, mixing traditional antisemitic tropes with new conspiracy theories revolving around the spread of the virus.

The crisis has led to a further radicalization of certain sectors of European countries that were already hostile to Jews, and this radicalization increases the threat to Jewish communities across the continent. Many Jewish communities find themselves in urgent need of better security, which is inevitably costly, at the very time when their income and budgets are severely stretched. This means a greater dependency on assistance from national governments and regional authorities, as well as from the EU, to be able to maintain an effective security posture to thwart the expanding threats.

The results of effective and well-managed community crisis management and crisis communication, based to a large extent on CMT procedures and realistic scenario simulations, played a major role in saving lives and maintaining effective continuity of operation of community institutions and services even during the worst days of the crisis. Although in two countries—France and Britain—the numbers of Jews who have died of coronavirus is quite high, other communities, such as those of Italy, Spain, and Hungary, came out of the peak of the crisis with relatively few deaths.

The immediate outlook for Jewish communities in Europe shows three main challenges in parallel:

  • Alleviating the economic hardship of community members
  • Countering radicalization and antisemitic trends in their regions
  • Enhancing physical security to stop lone wolf attacks of the type seen in the Halle Synagogue terror attack of October 2019.

The European Jewish Congress has a central role to play in assisting Jewish communities, especially the smaller ones, in dealing with these almost insurmountable challenges. The EU must support the European Jewish Congress, as well as directly support the most hard-hit Jewish communities, in order to mitigate the greatest threat to the institutional continuity of Jewish life in Europe since WWII.

(Prof. Shlomo Shpiro is Director of the Europa Institute and Senior Research Fellow of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. A leading expert in crisis management and crisis communication, he assisted the SACC in helping community CMT crisis preparations)

When deBlasio announced that stores will be open for "takeout only" I don't think any of us really understood what he meant!

Misusing the Bible Against Vaccination By Alan M. Dershowitz

Most of the emails and phone calls that I have gotten since I stated that the Constitution permits safe mandatory vaccination against highly contagious and lethal diseases have been from anti-vaxxers who claim the authority of the Bible. Have they actually read the Bible? Of course, the Bible says nothing about vaccinations: they were not even imagined at the time, but the Bible speaks volumes about the need to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. Large sections of the Bible deal with diagnosing contagious diseases such as leprosy and quarantining carriers outside the city walls until they were no longer contagious. The Bible also demands that we choose life over convenience, money or other values.

We all know that the devil can cite scripture to his purposes. Supporters of slavery cited the Bible, as did anti-Semites and anti-gay bigots. And now anti-vaxxers are distorting and weaponizing the Good Book, religion and God against science. This has happened before, with evolution, the age of the earth, abortion and assisted suicide. But this time the anti-vaxxers who cite the Bible have no plausible argument as anyone can see by turning to Leviticus and other portions of both the Jewish Bible and the Christian New Testament. These are God's words, as recorded in Leviticus, Chapters 13 and 14. "The priest shall isolate" the contagious person for seven days and then an additional seven days if the contagion persists. "And he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp." Nor was this quarantine voluntary. The priest could compel it. In light of the Bible's great concern for preventing the spread of contagious diseases – innumerable rules and regulations are devoted to it — can there be any doubt that if a safe and effective vaccine had been developed, it, too, would have been mandated along with a compelled quarantine?

It should not be a crime to miscite the Bible for political or ideological purposes, but it surely is a sin to take God's name in vain. The idea that a deity who demands that we choose life would have opposed the ending of smallpox, polio, Ebola and other contagious diseases whose spread has been prevented by vaccines, defies understanding by those of us who have actually studied the Bible. I have written two books about the Bible, and taught a seminar at Harvard Law School entitled, "The Scriptural Sources of Justice" in which we studied the relationship between scripture –the Jewish and Christian Bibles as well as the Koran – and systems of justice throughout the ages. Students wrote papers and explored numerous contemporary issues. No rational person I am aware of has ever demonstrated that these sources would stand in the way of lifesaving measures, including vaccination, which has now become common throughout the world.

To be sure, no one should be compelled to take a vaccine that has not been proven safe and effective. But once a vaccine meets those demanding standards, religion should be on the side of saving lives not risking them. At the very least, the Bible and God should not be cited against these life-saving measures. Anti-vaxxers are free to cite science, philosophy, law— but do not miscite the Bible or God. It is irreligious and insults the intelligence of those who have actually studied the Bible by assuming, as many do, that the Bible opposes everything they oppose.

Invoking the Bible and God is intended not as a stimulus to further debate, but rather as an argument- stopper: God is against it; no further discussion, research or argument is necessary; the debate is over. That should never be the case, even when the Bible is clearly against something such as gay sex. It should certainly not be the case when the Bible is being miscited and misused for ideological or political purposes.

I challenge any religious leader to point to specific biblical or religious sources to support the claim that God is on the side of anti-vaxxers. They will not be able to. They simply assume that God is on the side of every political or ideological position they espouse. If that is not taking the name of God in vain, I don't know what is. And I have a source for that: The Ten Commandments.

So, let the debate continue as scientists work overtime to try to develop an effective and safe vaccine against the coronavirus, but let's not distort or end the debate by introducing phony religious arguments based on a misreading of the Bible and other scriptural sources.

See you Sunday bli neder-Shabbat Shalom We need Moshiach now

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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