Breaking news: Experts believe there will be no long-term side effects to the mRNA vaccines and Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Vindicates Shmita Land Sale Permits, Contradicting Religious Zionist RabbisBy David Israel and The Jews Who Designed And Built The Golden Gate Bridge By Saul Jay Singer and Jewish Community Donates Over A Million Dollars Worth Of Aid For Haiti
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.
As thousands of Israelis rush back to their health funds in search of a third COVID-19 vaccine shot and a Green Pass from isolation after traveling abroad, others are asking if another injection of messenger RNA is safe.The American Food and Drug Administration provided full approval of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine last week, but noted in its press release that "information is not yet available about potential long-term health outcomes."However, Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, told The Jerusalem Post that while he cannot claim to know what is going to happen in 10 years, "there is no true reason to think there are any significant long-term effects" of the vaccine.
He explained that there is no other vaccine that was evaluated for a decade before approval and that there is not an example of another vaccine – although no other vaccine is an mRNA vaccine – that has been linked to any significant long-term effects."There is no evidence of something happening unless it happened in the first two hours, two weeks or two months," said Michal Linial, a professor of biological chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "We do not know of any other examples in which the immune system decided to suddenly react to a vaccine that was given 15 years prior."THERE ARE also few examples of people being nervous about taking a booster shot of an already approved vaccine.If a person were to get cut by rusted metal and go to a doctor, the health professional would probably tell that individual to get a tetanus booster shot. It is unlikely this person would ask the doctor if the booster was safe or if it could prevent her from getting pregnant or him from making babies.
This is the same thing," Linial said. "I can understand in the beginning that this was a breakthrough and people were shocked, like it is some kind of satellite to the Moon and they don't want to be the first on the satellite. But now we know: This is nothing like that."Rather, more than two billion people worldwide have been inoculated against COVID-19 with more than five billion doses. Around 210 million Pfizer mRNA doses have been distributed in America, for example. In Israel, more than 8.5 million doses have been administered.While traditional vaccines generally put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mRNA vaccines "teach our cells how to make a protein – or even just a piece of a protein – that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies."Brosh said that this does not mean that the vaccine changes people's genetic code. Rather, he said the mRNA is more like a USB device that is inserted into a computer: It does not impact the hard drive of the computer but runs a certain program."Messenger RNA is a very fragile molecule, meaning it can be destroyed very easily," Linial explained. "If you put mRNA on the table, for example, in a minute there will not be any mRNA left. This is as opposed to DNA, which is as stable as you get."She said that this fragility is true of the mRNA of any living thing, whether it belongs to a plant, bacteria, virus or human.
A WOMAN receives a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, at Meuhedet vaccination center in Jerusalem, last week. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)WHILE THE Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are based on new technologies, they are asking our bodies to do something they do every day: cells synthesizing protein.Moderna and Pfizer are simply delivering a specific mRNA sequence to our cells. Once the mRNA is in the cell, human biology takes over. Ribosomes read the code and build the protein, and the cells express the protein in the body.This is one of the main reasons to believe there will be no long-term consequences to the vaccine, said Prof. Eyal Leshem, director of Sheba Medical Center's Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases.While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the first mRNA ones to ever be brought to market for human patients, Linial said she believes the reason that no mRNA vaccine has been developed until now is because there was just no need to move this fast on a vaccine until COVID-19 came along.In fact, scientists have been experimenting with mRNA for the better part of the last three decades. Leshem said mRNA vaccines for other diseases, including cancer, have been tested in humans for around 10 years and "no long-term effects were registered" in those trials – though he admitted that these trials generally included small numbers of participants.Individuals began receiving mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 as early as July of last year, and adverse effects have been closely tracked worldwide since then.In Israel, the first vaccines were administered on December 20, 2020."There is more data on the adverse events of these vaccines than we have ever had on any other vaccine," Brosh said, adding that no vaccine has ever been given to so many people so quickly.Most adverse events were simple "reactogenicity" – reactions that occur soon after vaccination and that are a physical manifestation of the inflammatory response. These can include fever, muscle pain, swelling at the site of injection or swelling of the lymph nodes, for example – all symptoms that can generally be treated with paracetamol or the like.THE VACCINE was linked to one "immune-mediated phenomenon," said Brosh, and that is myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle – which was the predominant serious side effect in young male adults between the ages of 16 and 25. But even then, myocarditis was rare, generally mild, and those people who developed it fully recovered, he said.Moreover, unvaccinated people who contracted COVID-19 were four times more likely to develop myocarditis than vaccinated people were, according to a new study by Clalit Health Services together with Harvard University that was published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine.The study found that there were around 2.7 cases of myocarditis per 100,000 vaccinated people infected with the virus, compared with 11 cases per 100,000 unvaccinated people who were infected.In general, the study showed that individuals who take the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine may suffer from four out of up to 25 clinically relevant side effects: myocarditis, swelling of the lymph nodes, appendicitis and herpes zoster.In contrast, high rates of multiple serious adverse events were associated with coronavirus infection among unvaccinated patients, including a greatly increased risk of developing myocarditis, pericarditis, arrhythmias, heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolism, deep-vein thrombosis or acute kidney damage."So, all together we know the vaccines are safe and effective. This holds true for the initial doses and probably also for the booster doses," Leshem said.Linial said she believes that most future vaccines will be made of mRNA because "it is an easy, great technology – no question."She also said that vaccination is the only way to beat this pandemic."If people want to go back to their lives," Linial said, "the population must be vaccinated."
Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Vindicates Shmita Land Sale Permits, Contradicting Religious Zionist Rabbis
As the year of shmita, also called the sabbatical year, is approaching, Jerusalem's chief rabbi, Rabbi Aryeh Stern, last week came out in support of the "heter mechira"—the mechanism devised in the late 19th century by the Russian posek Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor under which the Holy Land could be sold to a non-Jew for the duration of the sabbatical year through a trust agreement. Rabbi Stern called on Israeli consumers to continue buying their fruits and vegetables from Jewish farmers who have sold their plots to Gentiles through the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
Rabbi Stern's call followed letters from "srugim" rabbis, who prefer the Tosefta-designed device of Otzar Beit Din (storehouse of the rabbinical court) – a community-based rabbinical court that supervises the harvest by hiring workers to crop, store, and distribute food to the community. Community members pay the court, but the payment is seen as compensation for the court's trouble and not for purchasing the food. The court then passes the money to the farmers.
Both methods were devised as legal fictions to go around the literal wording of the mitzvah of shmita (Leviticus 25:4), which states: "But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for God: you shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard." The land sale solution means the farmer no longer owns his land, so that the field he sows and the vineyard he prunes are not his. The rabbinical court solution also takes the land out of the farmer's hands.
Religious Zionist rabbis have been advocating for the Otzar Beit Din option because it does not involve the fictitious undoing of the Zionist enterprise by handing the land back to the gentiles after returning from the diaspora. Supporters of the wholesale sale of the land point to the fact that the most revered Religious Zionist scholar, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, supported it.
Rabbi Stern addressed all the residents of Jerusalem in his letter, saying:
"On the eve of the year of the Shmita that comes upon us for good, I would like to announce that this year, too, the sale permit has been arranged by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, as instructed by the great ones of the generations, led by our great teacher Rabbi Kook Ztz'l. Therefore everyone can buy the agricultural produce that has the certificates of sale, and it is permissible without any apprehension and doubt."
The land sale ceremony ahead of the shmita year took place last week at the Chief Rabbinate, as 6,200 farmers from all over the country signed a sale permit with the Chief Rabbinate's shmita inspectors. The sale permit allows the sale of their land to a non-Jew in the shmita year so that they can perform the four agricultural labors forbidden by the Torah during the shmita: plowing, planting, pruning, and harvesting.
At the ceremony, the sale permit for one year was signed by Wesley Schmidt, a resident of the State of Israel who follows the Seven Laws of Noah, which will allow farmers to continue to cultivate their land even during the shmita year. The farmers will be issued marketing permits they will use to market their produce as kosher during the shmita year.
The Seven Laws of Noah include prohibitions against worshiping idols, cursing God, murder, adultery, and sexual immorality, theft, eating flesh torn from a living animal, as well as the obligation to establish courts of justice.
Jewish Community Donates Over A Million Dollars Worth Of Aid For Haiti
The Jewish Community bringing relief to Haiti after the 2021 earthquake. Working together with local Haitian organization and their counterparts in Haiti.
NY's Jewish Community working together to bring relief to Haiti after the 2021 earthquake. NYS Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein (D-Brooklyn), Rockland County Legislator Aaron Weider (D-Spring Valley), and Alexander Rapaport, ED of Masbia Soup Kitchen Network, together with community and faith leaders of the Haitian community will announce the launch of a drive for Haiti relief. The drop off for needed items at the local Haitian social service organization who plan to travel to Haiti with the supplies, Konbit Neg Lakay, 16 East Church St. Spring Valley, New York 10977.
Those all over America who want to join can go to masbiarelief.org/haiti and buy much needed items from the Amazon Wish List or make a tax-deductible donation and help pay for the shipping and travel costs, as well as buying needed supplies. Many partnerships are still in the process of being made. Over a million dollars worth of hand sanitizer, surface wipes, and shelf-stable food has already been pledged to this effort by members of the Jewish community.
The Jews Who Designed And Built The Golden Gate Bridge
Before the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, the only practical short route between San Francisco and what is now Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay. Ferry service began in about 1820 but, with San Francisco emerging as a major American city, its further growth and development was being stymied by the fact that the city was still reachable primarily by the ferry boats.
For many decades, the feasibility of building a bridge across the Bay was doubted by experts, who noted, among other issues, the strong winds blowing across San Francisco Bay; the powerful currents and tides in the Bay and the 500-foot depth at its center; the frequently blinding fog that would make construction particularly difficult; and the fact that it would have to span the greatest distance ever. Moreover, they claimed, even if all these issues could somehow be resolved, raising sufficient funds for this unprecedented project would be impossible.
Advertisement Enter Joseph Baermann Strauss (1870-1938), an American structural engineer who revolutionized the design of bascule bridges (which used a pivoting section that was raised and lowered using expensive counterweights to create clearance for boat traffic). He was also a poet who became a well-known businessman and supporter of the Jewish community in San Francisco.
Born into a German-Jewish family in Cincinnati, Strauss's father was a writer and painter and his mother was a classical pianist. His original career plans were to follow in his parents' steps and become a writer and a concert performer, but his career path took an unexpected and serendipitous turn while he was attending the University of Cincinnati.
Strauss's interest in bridges began when the 5'3" undergraduate, manifesting the determination for which he would later become renowned, had the brashness – and, as it turned out, the foolishness – to try out for the University football team and sustained injuries so serious that he had to be hospitalized. Looking out through the window of his hospital room, he was taken by the beauty of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which spanned the Ohio River and connected Covington, Kentucky, with Cincinnati. Completed in 1866, it was then the longest suspension bridge in history. (Roebling became particularly renowned as the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in 1883.)
Strauss's senior thesis at the University of Cincinnati, which he graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1892, was a proposed 55-mile railroad bridge across the Bering Strait. (In 1907, Tsar Nicholas II actually approved the project for construction, which was estimated to cost $300 million, but World War I intervened.) His first position was at a firm that specialized in building movable bascule bridges, but he set out on his own and founded the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company of Chicago in 1904.
Before becoming involved with the design and construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Strauss was involved in the design and construction of over 400 drawbridges. His aereoscope, which was based upon the same principle as his folding bridge, lifted passengers 265 feet up on a car balanced on a 380-ton counterweight and was the highlight of the 1915 Panama-American Exposition in San Francisco.
The first meaningful design for a bridge across San Francisco Bay did not actually come from Strauss but rather from James Wilkins, a structural engineering student, who published an article in the San Francisco Bulletin in 1916 touting the possibility of building such a bridge. After M. M. O'Shaughnessy, the San Francisco city engineer, estimated that the cost of implementing Wilkins's proposal would exceed $100 million, he consulted with Strauss, already a renowned bridgebuilder. Strauss responded that his own bridge design, which proposed an enormous cantilever (a long projecting beam fixed at one end) on each side of the Bay connected by a central suspension segment, could be built for $17 million.
After conducting lengthy studies and analyses, Strauss submitted his preliminary sketches in 1921. Although this first proposed design was rejected by almost everyone – the press referred to it as "an upside rat cage" – local authorities agreed to commence the project with Strauss, but only after receiving his assurance that he would consult with other experts and agree to adopt a suspension bridge design. Unwilling to accept failure, he retained a number of exceptional consultants to work with him, which yielded a new design for a suspension bridge that critics characterized as "engineering as high art."
Opposition to the bridge project, which was massive and often hostile, came from many quarters. The War Department feared that the bridge could be blown up by saboteurs, thereby effectively blocking American warships and commercial trade from passing through the harbor. (The Department, which controlled the relevant land and the strait, did not issue its final approval for the bridge construction until August 11, 1930.) Powerful and influential unions demanded ironclad assurances that its local workers would receive most of the construction jobs, and the Sierra Club and other environmentalists complained that the steel towers would forever mar the pristine landscape.
Significant opposition also came from the powerful Southern Pacific Railroad, which opposed the bridge because it would take business away from its ferry fleet and destroy many ferryman jobs. The railroad commenced litigation that tied Strauss up in knots for six years, until he finally prevailed in the United States Supreme Court on July 31, 1932.
It was common in 1920s and 1930s America to exclude Jews from social, political and economic life, and California was at the time the epicenter of the eugenics movement. Some of the opposition apparently had its roots in anti-Semitism and dislike for the Jew Strauss, who was actively involved over the course of many years in trying to raise funds for the bridge. For example, Miner Chipman, a consulting engineer, wrote that there were bad leaks in the bridge organization and that "the engineering department" should keep its nose out of the financing problem: "The Chief Engineer (i.e., Strauss) is already under fire as a promotor, a Jew, and an alien. If he butts into this bond matter, it will confirm the promotion assertion and provide more ammunition to the opposition."
However, the project did have its supporters, including the nascent automobile industry, which understood that the expansion of roads and bridges would increase the demand for cars and, perhaps most importantly, the general public, which tired of the often interminable wait due to congested ferry crossings.
The name "Golden Gate Bridge" was first used when the project was initially discussed by Strauss and O'Shaughnessy in 1917. That name became official six years later when the California State Legislature adopted the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District Act (May 25, 1923), and "the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District," formally incorporated in 1928, was designated as the official entity to design, construct, and finance the bridge. Strauss was officially appointed chief engineer on August 15, 1929; he submitted his final detailed plans on August 27, 1930; and construction on the bridge began on January 5, 1933, with the official groundbreaking ceremony held on February 26, 1933.
Unlike the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which opened in 1936, the Golden Gate Bridge received no state or federal backing but was rather financed through a localized, county-driven process. Funding was always a problem, and the project almost immediately ran into even greater financial difficulties after the 1929 Wall Street crash. Bridge management lobbied for the issuance of $35 million in bonds, which were approved by the local counties on November 4, 1930, but the bonds were not actually sold until two years later, when the San Francisco-based Bank of America purchased the entire issue.
The ultimate aggregate cost of the bridge was $35 million, and Strauss brought it in $1.3 million under budget. When the bridge was completed in 1937, its 4,200-foot span made it the longest suspension bridge in the world, and its suspension towers, 692 feet above water level, also set a world record.
Official Souvenir Program "Celebrating the Opening of the World's Longest Single Span."
There was broad debate regarding the final color of the bridge. For example, the Navy urged the use of a yellow and black striping to facilitate visibility for ships traveling through the infamous bay fog; the U.S. Army Air Corps, concerned about pilot visibility, argued that the bridge should be painted in red and white; and engineer Othmar Hermann Ammann, who designed the George Washington Bridge (opened in 1931) and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (opened in 1964), preferred the same gray that he had used in constructing his bridges. Meanwhile, to protect the bridge during its construction, Strauss used "international orange," a reddish lead-based primer, to cover the bridge. His arguments for using that color as the permanent one for the bridge ultimately won the day, and supporters were pleased that it evoked recollections of the California Gold Rush that led to the development of the entire Bay area.
The bridge-opening celebration began on May 27, 1937, and the ensuing "Fiesta," which featured a broad variety of civil and cultural activities, lasted for a week. On opening day, Strauss formally presented the bridge to the Highway District, and some 200,000 people crossed on foot the day before vehicular traffic was allowed. Strauss was awarded the right to lifelong free travel on the bridge as a symbolic recognition from a deeply appreciative city. Sadly, however, he was to use this privilege for only a very short time because he died a year after the opening of the bridge because of, according to many authorities, the incredible stress he suffered during decades of unremitting pressure and his attention to every aspect of the Golden Gate Bridge, which became his everlasting legacy.
Strauss's detractors initially blocked a statue of the chief engineer that had been proposed for the bridge plaza, but his widow, who funded it herself, dedicated it on May 29, 1941, only two weeks after Strauss's untimely death. The statue was inscribed simply "Joseph B. Strauss, 1870-1938, 'The Man Who Built the Bridge.'" Later, grateful citizens erected a bronze monument to him next to the bridge.
Although some critics allege that Strauss downplayed the contributions of his collaborators who, they say, were largely responsible for the final bridge design, he is rightfully credited for the ultimate success of the project as he conceived it; tirelessly and single-mindedly promoted it; directed it using his remarkable organizational skills; raised funds for its construction; obtained building permits; negotiated contracts; administered its day-to-day construction; resolved disputes; and saw it through as the official chief engineer in charge of the overall design and construction of the bridge. Moreover, deeply concerned with the safety of his workers, he innovated safety standards, including the use of movable safety netting beneath the construction site, which is credited with saving 19 lives. There can be little question that at least some of this attempt to take credit away from Strauss was because he had become a prominent Jew.
It is true, however, that aware of his own limitations and that he lacked broad knowledge and experience with cable-suspension designs, he delegated responsibility for much of the engineering and architecture to his experts, some of whom he conspicuously failed to acknowledge. The final suspension design was conceived by Leon Moisseiff, and architect Irving Morrow designed the general form of the bridge towers and the lighting scheme, railing and footpaths.
Both Moisseiff and Morrow were Jews. Morrow, a young architect, was of Jewish-Russian heritage, but Moisseiff's story (1872-1943) is far more historic. A leading and innovative American suspension bridge engineer, he is best known for the infamous collapse of his Tacoma- Narrows Suspension Bridge over Puget Sound in a windstorm four months after its completion in 1940. The stunning and frightening historic failure, which can be seen on YouTube, is used to this day in educating engineering, architecture, and physics students.
Because of Moisseiff's role as a consulting engineer on the design of the Golden Gate Bridge, the authorities temporarily closed it down after the Tacoma Narrows fiasco, but it was deemed safe after a thorough inspection.
Born in Riga, Latvia, to a Jewish family, Moisseiff studied at the Baltic Polytechnic Institute before emigrating at age 19 to the United States as a result of his political activities. After earning a degree in civil engineering from Columbia University (1895), he quickly earned national respect as an advocate of all-steel bridges and for his design of the Manhattan Bridge over the East River, among other notable projects. Many critics argue that the collapse of the Tacoma Bridge caused his death from a sudden heart attack a few years later.
Finally, I remember a story from my days in actuarial practice regarding the insurance agent who was charged with placing the coverage and paying the initial annual premium for the Tacoma Bridge. Figuring that "in our modern world, who ever heard of a bridge collapsing in its first year," he pocketed the premium, was publicly disgraced when the bridge fell, and was later convicted of embezzlement.
See you tomorrow bli neder
Rosh Hashanah is Tuesday and Wednesday next week with Yom Kippur to follow the following week September 16