Two-thirds of corona jab reactions caused by placebo effect - study and England Ends All COVID Passports, Mask Mandates, Work Restrictions and Nasa Physicist Makes Aliyah, Delta Airlines Honors Him and Survey: 90% of US Jews Concerned About Antisemitism But Won’t Consider AliyahBy David Israel and Erna Covos and the Farm at Beit Hogla under Shimita restrictions
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.
Senior citizens receive a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination party in Netanya(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
More than two-thirds of the common side-effects people experience after a corona shot can be attributed to a negative version of the placebo effect rather than the vaccine itself, new research indicates.
Scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston examined data from 12 clinical trials of COVID vaccines and found the "nocebo effect" accounted for 76% of all common adverse reactions after the first dose, and nearly 52% after the second dose. A third of clinical trial participants who received no vaccine reported systemic adverse events like headache and fatigue.The findings, published in JAMA Network Open, suggest that a large proportion of milder side-effects such as headaches, short-term fatigue and arm pain are not produced by the vaccine itself, but by other factors thought to generate the nocebo response, such as anxiety.
Israelis receiving their fourth coronavirus vaccine, January 3, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)T "Adverse events after placebo treatment are common in randomized controlled trials," said lead author Julia W. Haas, PhD, an investigator in the Program in Placebo Studies at BIDMC. "Collecting systematic evidence regarding these nocebo responses in vaccine trials is important for COVID-19 vaccination worldwide, especially because concern about side effects is reported to be a reason for vaccine hesitancy."
England Ends All COVID Passports, Mask Mandates, Work Restrictions
Restrictions including COVID-19 passes, mask mandates, and work-from-home requirements will be removed in England, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday. Johnson also suggested that self-isolation rules may also be thrown out at the end of March as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic becomes endemic.
Effective immediately, the UK government is no longer asking people to work from home. The COVID pass mandate for nightclubs and large events won't be renewed when it expires on Jan. 26. And from Thursday, indoor mask-wearing will no longer be compulsory anywhere in England.
The requirement for secondary school pupils to wear masks during class and in communal areas will also be removed from the Department for Education's national guidance.
Roaring cheers from lawmakers could be heard in the House of Commons following Johnson's announcements on masks.
People who test positive for COVID-19 and their unvaccinated contacts are still required to self-isolate, but Johnson said he "very much expect[s] not to renew" the rule when the relevant regulations expire on March 24.
"As COVID becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others," the prime minister said.
Asked to remove testing rules for vaccinated UK-bound travellers, Johnson said the government is reviewing the testing arrangements on travel and that an announcement can be expected in the coming days.
But he refused to reconsider the vaccination mandate for frontline health care workers, insisting "the evidence is clear that health care professionals should get vaccinated."
Johnson told MPs that the Cabinet decided to remove its so-called "Plan B" measures on Wednesday morning as data suggest the Omicron wave has peaked nationally, and he attributed stabilizing hospital admission numbers to "the extraordinary booster campaign" and the public's compliance to the restriction measures.
The removal of the "Plan B" measures against the CCP virus came as the prime minister battles increasing pressure calling for him to resign over alleged lockdown-breaching parties in Number 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence, during the pandemic.
A separate petition calling on the reversal of vaccine mandates for health care workers, which was also delivered to Number 10 on Monday, received about 160,000 signatures.
Governments in Scotland and Wales have also announced the removal of Omicron curbs, but mandatory indoor mask-wearing and COVID passes will remain in place.
Nasa Physicist Makes Aliyah, Delta Airlines Honors Him
Physicist Jerry Wittenstein worked with astronaut Neil Armstrong at NASA and developed half of Apollo 11's trajectories. But now he and his wife are on a new trajectory.
The couple just made Aliyah (come on in, the water's fine) from Huntsville, Alabama. On their flight to Israel, Delta Airlines gave them a touching goodbye (video above) and passed on a message from their grandson. For these dedicated 20-year Delta Airline passengers, this is their last planned flight now that they are coming home to Israel.
Tu B'Shevat and Shmita 5782
Hashem spoke to Moshe on Har Sinai (The Lord spoke to Moses at Mt. Sinai):
Speak to B'nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) and say to them: When you enter the land that I assign you, the land shall observe a Shabbat of Hashem.
Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield.
But in the seventh year the land shall have a Shabbat of complete rest, a Shabbat of Hashem: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard...it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. - Leviticus 25:1-7 The Israel Bible
Dear Shofar So Great Partners, Friends, and Family,
The year 5782 on the Hebrew Calendar is a shmita, which for farmers like Erna Covos and the Farm at Beit Hogla, it means the land lays fallow, untouched for the entire year, even affecting the celebration of yesterday's Tu B'Shevat "New Year of the Trees" holiday.
It means that it is forbidden to plant or sell any fruits or vegetables grown in Israel. Erna's organic farm, which produces all of the products of the seven species pictured in the photo above (olives, dates, pomegranates, and figs) is observing a year of rest. As the land is resting, there is no planting, sowing, pruning, or harvesting of the fruits and vegetables that are growing directly in contact with the ground.
Matriarch and Founder of the Farm at Beit Hogla, Erna Covos welcomes guests to sample and purchase her handmade products at the recently completed Visitor Center at Beit Hogla Farm.
It is difficult enough for the farmers to survive a normal shmita year, but this one was preceded by Covid-19 and the disappearance of tours and visitors that help sustain the farm through product purchases and financial contributions.
What a conundrum! Now that the shmita observance is here, we cannot even offer the opportunity to plant a tree on Tu B'shevat, the traditional annual custom that supports the farm. The photos above capture year two of the newly established "Field of the Nations,' compared to the photo below from year one.
For those that may have missed the modern history of this place, Beit Hogla exists as an agricultural centerpiece in the middle of a significantly historical biblical site. It was founded by Erna Covos (AKA Mrs. Jericho) after the school she established at Shalom Al Yisrael synagogue in Jericho was set afire in the wake of the Oslo Accords twenty years ago when the city was handed over to the Palestinian Authority. Not far away from there lies the ancient biblical Gilgal, the place the nation of Israel was birthed at the crossing of the Jordan River by Joshua and the Israelites. This is where Erna relocated to stake her claim as the force and inspiration turning desolate desert into what is now home to some 600 fully producing olive trees, 170 pomegranate trees, 300 assorted date palms, fig and papayas.
I have chosen to move Shofar So Great's base of operations to this historical site and undergird the efforts of Erna and her vision.
Here are three of the famed seven species of Israel's bible represented at the Farm at Beit Hogla.
In lieu of a tree planting this year, would you consider donating to subsidize the maintenance of the farm during a time where there is no opportunity to sell the fruit of our labor?
Even Shofar So Great is pressed into assisting last year's harvest due to the lack of tours and volunteers.
Mordechai loans his truck to transport the freshly harvested olives to the olive press!
You will receive this personalized Certificate of Covenant signed by Erna herself to honor your contribution to restoring the land at Beit Hogla.
World attention is focused on dividing the land where the G-d of Israel said the returning Jews would never be uprooted again. Beit Hogla stands in the crosshairs of this international dilemma. Your ability to financially support the Farm at Beit Hogla is an act of faith that the G~d of Israel will keep HIS promise for the future of this nation. Show that you care about the Land and the people through a generous donation for the restoration of the Land in honor of Tu B'Shevat.
Survey: 90% of US Jews Concerned About Antisemitism But Won't Consider Aliyah
The following item reminded me of the adage about how everybody is talking about the weather but nobody is doing anything about it. A study commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that "Ninety-three percent of American Jews are concerned with the current levels of antisemitism in the United States, with nearly half of US Jews (42%) experiencing antisemitism either directly or through family and friends over the past five years alone."
That last bit is powerful: almost half of American Jews have had a direct or indirect clash with antisemitism. These are people for whom Jew-hatred is not a concept out of the history books but a real, here and now thing. And yet, nowhere in the survey does the obvious solution to a situation when you know for sure you are hated – get the heck out of there – does the word Aliyah appear as something hated Jews could do to escape their condition.
Mind you, Israel is mentioned as part of the survey: "When exploring their connection to Israel, approximately one-third (34%) of respondents believe the relationship between Israel and US Jews has weakened during the last two years, including 40% of Republicans and 31% of Democrats. Only 12% identified the May 2021 war between Israel and Hamas as a reason for that weakened relationship, with 32% naming the increasing power of right-wing or ultra-religious Israeli political parties, 25% the treatment of Palestinians, 24% the mutual ties between Netanyahu and former President Donald Trump, and 24% Israel's settlement policies in the West Bank."
In other words, Israel is that troubled place where religious zealots are running around oppressing Arabs with the blessings of the hated former president – by no means a sanctuary for American Jews whose neighbors are beginning to show them their real faces. This presumably includes folks who pray to God three times a day to deliver them from the diaspora to the promised land.
The survey finds some startling "gaps in basic knowledge about Israel," a polite way of saying these people are ignorant of the realities of the Jewish State. For instance, 41% of respondents are unaware that Israel's Arab citizens have voting rights, with 27% incorrectly asserting that Arab citizens cannot vote. Only 59% correctly identify Naftali Bennett as Israel's prime minister, with 16% saying it's Bibi Netanyahu. The rest just don't know.
When it comes to US politics, American Jews perceive both major parties as pro-Israel; 69% stating this was the case for the Democratic Party and 71% for the Republican Party. Yet when delving further into this support, the majority see Democrats as pro-Israel but critical of the Israeli government's policies, while the majority see Republicans as pro-Israel and supportive of its policies. Interestingly, both parties are seen to be moving in opposite directions with their support for Israel, with 54% believing the Democratic Party has become less pro-Israel and 39% stating that the Republican Party has become more pro-Israel.
Somebody should tell Senator Rand Paul (R- Kentucky).
Here's a hopeful note: The survey found that 9% of those who are uninvolved in the Jewish community view antisemitism as a reason for involvement, showcasing that the issue is strong enough to engage a demographic unconnected to Jewish life. At least some US Jews can put two and two together and come up with four. Perhaps they'll eventually take the math a little further and call their local Nefesh B'Nefesh office.
When asked how much they thought what happens to US Jews would have something to do with what happens in their own life, 82% acknowledged a shared fate. Even among those who do not value being Jewish, a majority (65%) feel what happens to other US Jews also has some effect on them. Please, God, let this be the start of a trend, let seeking a safer, happier life in their own country become the next fashionable thing for American Jews. Maybe a couple of timely New Yorker cartoons would help things along…
Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, commented: "Our survey reinforces the urgent need for American leadership to formulate new strategies to confront the surge of antisemitism and increasing hate crimes against the Jewish community. Accordingly, we hope that these findings spur local and national leaders into action on this critical issue. Antisemitism is a threat to American society as a whole and only in tackling this issue as one unified nation will it ever be truly addressed."
Again, not one word about that ultimate option, where you and your spouse take the kids to the airport and go live in the luxury of a place where antisemitism is punishable by law.
The two-part survey, conducted by the Mellman Group, examined 2,500 Jewish American adults in December 2019 and a further 1,000 Jewish adults from October to November 2021.
Despite being conducted before the synagogue hostage crisis in Colleyville, Texas, the newly released survey amplifies the renewed fears over antisemitism nationwide in the aftermath of that attack. Seventy-five percent of American Jews believe that there is more antisemitism today in the US than there was five years ago.
Almost all American Jews (94%) say they see at least some antisemitism in the US over the past five years. One in three younger Jews (18-39 years old) says they have personally experienced antisemitism and 60% say they know a family or friend who has. Older Jews (over 60 years old) are more likely to have seen "a lot" of antisemitism (62%) than younger Jews (47%).
Alas, I fear these young ones are about to see a lot more.