Copy
View this email in your browser
BS"D
August 6, '20
 
Welcome to the weekly newsletter of Igud HaRabbonim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, in which we share news for and about members, including communal news, announcements, publications, Divrei Torah, press releases and media mentions.

In this newsletter:
• Chaplaincy Commission Update
• Divrei Torah Eikev
• Upcoming Yahrtzeits 18 Av-25 Av
• The Rabbinical Alliance of America Urges Full Participation in the 2020 Census
• 5TJT: School Opening & Marriage License
• Hamodia: Marriage License
• Join the RAA Retirement Plan
• Asher Yatzar Chart
• The Rabbinical Alliance of America Calls For Reopening Schools Safely In The New School Year
• Obtaining a Marriage License During Covid-19, A Dialogue with Hon. Michael McSweeney, NYC Clerk & Clerk of The Council
• Rav Dr. Aaron Glatt: Covid Update July 30 & August 1

Please let us know about your family simchos and l"a aveilus, book publications and career changes or milestones, so we can share as chaveirim our life events. Send updates to rabbi@igud.us.

Chaplaincy Commission Update

From the desk of Rabbi Leonard (Yehuda)Blank, MS BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
917-446-2126 rablenblank@gmail.com
August 6, 2020

There was a store in Lower Manhattan that was selling handbags without any designer name tags on them. When a person would ask for a certain designer handbag, the salesperson would attach that name brand on the bag. The unassuming customer who would purchase one of those bags would be happy to have purchased such a handbag at such a lower cost than having purchased it in a department store. I recently saw an advertisement of a legitimate eye glass store selling designer frames. I wondered why it is so important to advertise those frames. Why not advertise having a beautiful assortment of frames to choose from. I guess the name brands represent different styles, specific of that name brand and easier to choose from. Did anyone ever notice even in Jewish newspapers and magazines mens suits and apparel featured by handsome looking men. At a discussion group, I once had, I posed a question why so much emphasis is placed on how we look or how we wished to be perceived as. This was a group of men and women of diverse backgrounds. Aside from wanting to look good or look better, some of the responses were wanting to look like some else, wanting to wear what other’s have, wanting to wear what the present style is or how they want others to perceive them. I am not disputing the meaning, the value of the above, but to focus on why are we concerned what others think or say about us? Are we interested in being someone we really are not? Can we sincerely be willing not to be concerned about what others think or say. Unfortunately, the state of affairs, of how old someone might be, the style of clothing (not how clean or neat they might be) and other factors can have an impact on how other’s might perceive that person. The same can held with judging a persons level of observance on what he is wearing. When my wife and I were staying over in the same room as my wife’s mother A”H when she was a patient at Sharei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem, at the minyan in their Beit Hakeneset it was so beautiful to see the men with kippah sruga, velvet yarmulka, black hats, striemels, white shirts, colored shirts, begishes, frocks, suits, slacks,(all neatly dressed for Shabbat) and patients from diverse backgrounds. All were davening with much kavaneh to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. You also can find similar synagogues in many places in the USA. In fact, the Bialystoker Nursing and Rehabilitation where I was the Director of Pastoral Care and Rabbi of the facility and shul, our minyan included both residents of the facility and congregants from the community caring about their prayers rather than their style of clothing. The same could be found in the shul where I was rabbi of prior to the nursing facility and there too, though everyone always looked their best on Shabbos, but there was no dress code. Everyone was welcome and that is how I find it in the shul I presently daven. When I was learning in the Bais Medrash at MTJ Yeshiva during the days of HaGaon HaRav Moshe Feinstein ztkl, the Mashgiah Ruchni was HaGaon HaRav Michael Barenbaum ztkl who I mentioned in a previous article. Someone came to the Bais Medrash with his bicycle wearing colored shirts and slacks. The Mashgiach welcomed this person and told him to bring his bicycle into the lobby not knowing who he was. This person had just arrived on his bike from New York University where he was a professor of mathematics at NYU. He was also a tremendous talmid chacham and anav who came to MTJ Yeshiva to learn. His name Rav Eliezer Ehrenpreis ztl. (Remember “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”). He did not perceive himself other than the person he was. He was a Gadol in his own right. One of his sons Raphael a true ben Torah is very close to HaGaon HaRav Dovid Feinstein shlita and the Rebbitzen Malka Feinstein sol zein gzundt.

Through the years, several my professional positions were in the “secular world” working with others not of the Jewish faith or other Jewish backgrounds. Even in the world of chaplaincy those who I cared for and other chaplains, I worked with were of diverse backgrounds both in their religion, culture etc. It is interesting to note that I was sometimes asked if I was of different Jewish backgrounds other than Orthodox, as I am able to work together, have a meaningful relationship with all Jewish people, being caring, sincere, inclusive was being special. But I was not being special, just being myself.  When I was taking my Clinical Pastoral Education units with Health Care Chaplaincy, I chose not the Jewish tract, but the all the denominational tract where the students came from different backgrounds. Many of  the patients I worked with in the hospital I was assigned to were not Jewish. In the hospital where I did my rounds with patients and staff I was assigned to the family practice, psychiatry, emergency room care, cancer, trauma , pediatrics, orthopedics, hospice to name some of the various disciplines of the hospital I was assigned to as part of my CPE for three years. My supervisors were Jewish and a Lutheran and both very respectful of my own background. One of the comments I received on my evaluations (and I will paraphrase) was one who could care for and work with patients and staff, clinical and otherwise from all backgrounds and yet retain his own borders as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. There are many stories, I could share of my experiences, but at another time. I am mispallel that I made a Kiddush H.

How it is possible to relate to and acknowledge chaplains of different Jewish backgrounds in the work they do. Many Jewish chaplains belong to the National Association of Jewish Chaplains. Membership absolutely does not require being ordained in this organization, just being a chaplain. I was on a recent conference call with a group of Jewish chaplains who are in different parts of the USA. One of the things they were discussing is how they were bringing Jewish cultural aspects of some of the Jewish holiday’s through creative and meaningful programing helping many to remember their Jewish roots. This is especially challenging using Zoom and other ways to connect with those patients during this COVID-19 virus. What I heard was how important it was to those chaplains for those Jewish individuals to know of their Jewish roots and to remember the various Jewish holidays. There is a Jewish chaplain for example in the Albany NY area who has done a magnificent job ensuring in all the facilities she has been assigned, to advocate and ensure those who are Jewish to be given the care they need and when she has had those who are Orthodox, to ensure their needs are being met. I had an experience where I was contacted by a Jewish chaplain about a patient whose first wife was Jewish died in the Holocaust. His second wife, was also a survivor, but died in America and his third wife was not of the Jewish faith. This wife who knew her husband was a Holocaust survivor was sensitive to wanting to do what she felt the right thing to do – for him to be buried in a Jewish cemetery and have a Jewish funeral whatever that would mean. I received a phone call from the Jewish chaplain at the facility he was in requesting my assistance to ensure whatever needs to be done for him to be buried in a Jewish cemetery and have Jewish burial arrangements. I did speak to this wife and we had a meaningful discussion. I then spoke to the head chaplain at his facility who was a Roman Catholic priest. Both he and the Jewish chaplain reassured the wife and family that everything will be done with respect and appropriate. I then contacted Rabbi Elchonon Zohn National Director of the National Association of Chevre Kadisha and we all collaborated. In the end, the funeral was held in a nonsectarian funeral home, he had all the appropriate preburial care done according to Rabbi Zohn’s guidance and a local orthodox rabbi officiated and he was buried in a Jewish cemetery. The family and all the chaplains were pleased with the outcome and the wonderful care and guidance Rabbi Zohn gave. It all began with the call I received from another Jewish chaplain. Having meaningful and good relations with other chaplains is essential. It is important for an Orthodox Jewish professional chaplain to have good hashkafah, education, knowledge and most know how he/ she perceives himself or herself caring for others. For those of our readership who might have missed a feature article I wrote during the midst of the pandemic about chaplaincy, amongst the featured chaplains was a chaplain at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. She is not rabbi, but a par excellent orthodox Jewish chaplain. She is a member of the Orthodox Jewish Chaplains Roundtable. If you would like a copy of that article, please let me know.

My Ashis Chayil, Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohein was an amazing person. Without any gaiva, any fanfare, she reached into the hearts of so many as, I have been writing about since before her petira. She did not perceive herself as anyone extraordinary. She was a humble and unassuming woman who sought opportunities to do chesed, to bring care and good feelings to so many. She found ways of bringing self- confidence, self esteem, and pride in every of our children and grandchildren, each other, and others as well. I am still encountering men and women from diverse backgrounds offering me their condolences, telling me how sorry they are having heard of the death of my wife. Feeling bad for me for my loss. What lifts my spirits is when those same people share with me what a wonderful person she was and how she was such a wonderful person. Yet, that also brings me to tears-missing such a dear and caring wife who was admired, respected, and appreciated by so many. Almost everyone would tell me about her sincere and glowing smile she had and her pleasant demeanor. She was my number one fan, as she was for all our children and grandchildren. Listening and glowing to any of our accomplishments. Should anyone feel down about something, she was the picker upper. She was like that to all her extended family- her dear friends and anyone who could benefit from her advice, her concerns, her joy and meaning of life. That is how she was until her last days of her life. I remember in her last weeks of life when there were significant changes in how she was feeling. One of the caring medical staff from Sloan said to me and her, that’s not you, I’m hearing your discomfort and what you are telling me how unhappy you are. Rather than having her next treatment or changing dosages with her medications we were asked to come in for some important tests. That however would take place after having a transfusion to give her extra strength. She was still not feeling well even after the transfusion. The doctor said it was time for those tests which eventually showed her cancer had spread. This was not the Keila who was always so cheerful. I cannot forget the kind words from the staff telling us we were like their family- they had tears and sadness having to tell us the news about the spreading of the cancer. They were so saddened when they spoke to me after she had died. She was not concerned how people perceived her. She was all natural as could be. No façade, no falseness, just a pure, loving human being. She loved life, she loved her family, she loved her husband, but most of all, she loved the Holy One – the Ribono Shel Olom. May we be zoche the geula shelaima, Moshiach tzedkainu bemhaira veyamainu and techias hamaisim. Amain.

In my last article, I included the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Asher Yatzar chart my wife would recite from except this one had my dedication on it for my wife A”H. However, not everyone was able to download it. Therefore, it was included as a link in this week’s newsletter.

Please download it and aside from yourselves, share it with others .

Thank you. Sincerely, Yehuda Blank

Please note the attached flyers and article regarding the importance of filing out the US Census.

Social-Work-ad-900x900-old-colorsCareer School- ONLINE



 

Divrei Torah Eikev

Rav Asher Weiss – Eikev 5780
Rav Asher Weiss - Eikev 5780
 
Dirshu – Eikev 5780
Dirshu - Eikev 5780
 
Eikev – Rabbi Ziegler 5780
Rabbi Ziegler - Eikev 5780
 
Eikev – Rabbi Ziegler 5779
Rabbi Ziegler - Eikev 5779
 
Eikev – Rabbi Borovetz 5770
Eikev - Rabbi Borovetz 5770
 
Eikev – Rabbi Hecht 5743
Eikev - Rabbi Hecht 5743
 
Eikev – Rabbi Kirsh 5771
Eikev - Rabbi Kirsh 5771
 
Eikev – Rabbi Kirsh 5772
Eikev - Rabbi Kirsh 5772
 
Eikev – Rabbi Kirsh 5774
Eikev - Rabbi Kirsh 5774
 
Eikev – Rabbi Kirsh H 5772
Eikev - Rabbi Kirsh H 5772
 
Eikev – Rabbi Klass 5770
Eikev - Rabbi Klass 5770
 
Eikev – Rabbi Kurzrock 5769
Eikev - Rabbi Kurzrock 5769
 
Eikev – Rabbi Machlis 5715
Eikev - Rabbi Machlis 5715
 
Eikev – Rabbi Rokeach 5772
Eikev - Rabbi Rokeach 5772
 
Eikev – Rabbi Rokeach 5773
Eikev - Rabbi Rokeach 5773
 
Eikev – Rabbi Rokeach 5773 (2)
Eikev - Rabbi Rokeach 5773 (2)
 
Eikev – Rabbi Spivak 5740
Eikev - Rabbi Spivak 5740
 
Eikev – Rabbi Ziegler 5769
Eikev - Rabbi Ziegler 5769
 
Eikev – Rabbi Ziegler 5770
Eikev - Rabbi Ziegler 5770
 
Eikev – Rabbi Ziegler 5774
Eikev - Rabbi Ziegler 5774
 
Eikev – Rabbi Ziegler 5775
Eikev - Rabbi Ziegler 5775
 
Eikev – Liska Rebbe 5779



 

Upcoming Yahrtzeits 18 Av-25 Av



 

The Rabbinical Alliance of America Urges Full Participation in the 2020 Census

The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis — calls for the Jewish community’s full participation in the 2020 Census. As a community, we must understand the full extent of the unusually difficult current state of affairs which we are experiencing. These are difficult times for our country and we face daunting challenges. The coronavirus pandemic, the pause of economic activity, and the underlying racial inequalities and anti-Semitism have caused great pain and uncertainty. The Jewish community has always played a significant role in local civic and economic life. A complete and accurate population count results in appropriate representation in government and fair distribution of funding for programs and services like healthcare and education, that our community needs and on which it depends.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America is reaching out to you about one easy thing you can do from your home to ensure that your neighborhood recovers from this crisis: Complete the 2020 Census. The more people from your community fill out the census, the more money your neighbors in need will get from the government for hospitals, healthcare, schools, and housing over the next decade. Particularly in light of the current crisis, the Jewish and local communities need these funds more than ever. Additionally, census data serves as the basis for redistricting legislative and congressional seats. An undercount will have serious consequences for your elected representatives.
In these times of fear and frustration, there is no better demonstration of unity and compassion than providing funding for essential services and emergency preparedness. And this is where you come in.
This is an urgent problem. For example, Manhattan self-response rates for Census 2020 are considerably lower than 2010, most likely due to the pandemic and people leaving the city. Rabbis, we need you to send a standalone message to your membership outlining the importance of members of the Jewish community completing the census, for many reasons including the ongoing health crisis and combatting anti-Semitism. Quite simply, each completed census brings money to their neighborhoods, ensures representation in Washington and can be filled out online in less than ten minutes at http://www.my2020census.gov.

Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, noted that, “Many members of our community have temporarily relocated during the pandemic and the response rate for the census is considerably lower than the 2010 census. One of the best ways we can ensure a complete count is by simply talking to our family, friends, and neighbors directly and encouraging them to participate in the census. It takes less than ten minutes to answer the ten questions the census asks, yet it affects the next ten years of our city’s future and will impact how our city will rebound from this crisis. You can sign up at http://www.nyc.gov/censusfriends to help ‘get out the count’ with your loved ones!”

By encouraging our family, friends, neighbors and congregants to participate in Census 2020 you will be helping to ensure that your community gets the resources and representation it deserves. Please do so. The consequences for not filling out the census can potentially be devastating to our community.



 

5TJT: School Opening & Marriage License

The Five Towns Jewish Times, August 7, 2020, discusses RAA’s call for safe school opening and meeting with Hon. Michael Sweeney about obtaining marriage licenses

 



 

Hamodia: Marriage License

Hamodia, August 5, 2020, carries an item about RAA/Igud’s meeting with the Hon. Michael McSweeney, NYC Clerk



 

Join the RAA Retirement Plan



 

Asher Yatzar Chart

Dedicated by Rav Yehuda (Leonard) Blank in honor of Keila Lutza bas Shalom HaKohein A”H

Click here to download



 

The Rabbinical Alliance of America Calls For Reopening Schools Safely In The New School Year

The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis —  calls for the cautious reopening of schools for the new school year, following medical recommendations. Throughout the pandemic, RAA/Igud has called for following the guidance of halachic scholars and leading medical professionals, particularly the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On July 23, 2020, the CDC issued a report titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall” which emphasizes the health benefits of opening schools compared to the risks of keeping them closed. Because local conditions differ, every school must follow local medical and legal guidance in order to maintain the safest possible environment. However, within those limitations, RAA/Igud encourages reopening schools wherever possible.

The CDC describes the social and emotional skills that develop within the school framework. Lengthened quarantines correlate to avoidance behavior, anger and post-stress disorders. Schools provide important mental health services and therapies to children and allow for identification of trauma symptoms by school staff. A safe school environment lowers feelings of anxiety and related tragic behaviors. Schools also provide children nutrition and opportunities for physical activity. Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the CDC, testified to Congress on July 23, 2020, “I don’t think I can emphasize it enough, as the director for the Centers for Disease Control, the leading public health agency in the world: it is in the public health interest that these K-12 students get the schools back open for face-to-face learning.”

Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice president of RAA/Igud, said, “In addition to the health benefits described by the CDC, Torah education is precious. We transmit our precious mesorah, the religious tradition, through education. The Talmud says that you cannot compare the achievements of a child who starts schooling a year earlier to one who starts a year later. Every year, every semester, every day of Torah education is invaluable. We have to be safe and follow medical recommendations in order to prevent further spread of this dangerous virus. Let us help our children move forward in their Torah, social and emotional education.”

Rabbi Aaron Glatt, MD, RAA/Igud’s Director of Halacha and Medicine Commision, said, “We have to recognize from a social point of view, an economic point of view and a spiritual point of view how important it is for children to attend school. We can learn from the experiences in other countries, including Israel, how to open schools in a safe way so the children can experience school in a way that is as close to normal as possible. We must follow science and published medical studies, together with the wisdom of our leading Torah scholars, to guide us forward. In order to serve our children and our communities effectively, parents must partner with schools by following the guidance given by medical and legal authorities.”

Rabbi Dr. Glatt added, “Schools will probably only be allowed to reopen in places where COVID incidence is low. Therefore, people must wear masks now in order to reduce and maintain low levels of COVID so that we can join together in prayer on the High Holidays and our children can return to schools for the new year.”

Rabbi Dr. Glatt recommends the website MaskToProtect.org which provides information and resources about masks, including studies and games for children.

 



 

Obtaining a Marriage License During Covid-19, A Dialogue with Hon. Michael McSweeney, NYC Clerk & Clerk of The Council

How do couples obtain a marriage license in this difficult time of Covid-19? On Monday, July 27, 2020, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim (RAA/Igud) convened an important roundtable dialogue with the Hon. Michael McSweeney, who serves as the New York City Clerk and Clerk of the Council. This special outdoor meeting of the RAA/Igud was hosted by Rabbi Dr. Joseph Frager, chairman of the Israel Advocacy Committee of the RAA/Igud and organized by Rabbi Dovid Katz, Menahel of the RAA/Igud.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman of the RAA/Igud and Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the RAA/Igud warmly welcomed Hon. Michael McSweeney and thanked him on behalf of the 950 Orthodox Rabbis of the RAA/Igud for taking time from his busy schedule to meet with the RAA/Igud and to discuss the issue of obtaining a marriage license during Covid 19. 

Rabbi Mirocznik stated, “We will disseminate the information learned tonight with our rabbinic colleagues and congregants and help guide them through the process of obtaining a marriage license during this time of Covid. As rabbis, we have a responsibility to our congregants to make certain that they can legally marry and build families. We thank Hon. Michael McSweeney for joining us tonight for this important discussion. We thank Rabbi Dr. Joseph Frager for hosting the meeting and Rabbi Dovid Katz for organizing the meeting.” Rabbi Mirocznik welcomed Mr. Larry Gordon, publisher and editor of the Five Times Jewish Times, and thanked him for attending the meeting with Michael McSweeney, NYC Clerk and Clerk of the Council.

Mr. McSweeney is a Queens native who has served as City Clerk and Clerk of the Council since 2009.  Mr. McSweeney is a dedicated, hard-working public servant who supervises one of the oldest offices in New York City government, with beginnings traceable to the inception of the town of New Amsterdam. One of Mr. McSweeney’s most rewarding and enjoyable tasks is supervising the New York City Bureau of Marriage License, the city’s agency that issues marriage licenses.  Sadly, because of Covid-19, the Marriage Bureau offices have temporarily closed. Mr. McSweeney came to advise the Rabbinical Alliance of America how rabbis and marriage officiants can guide couples in obtaining a marriage license during these trying times. 

Mr. McSweeney began the discussion by acknowledging how rabbis play an important role in the registration work of the Marriage Bureau. As a result of Covid-19 and the closure of the Marriage Bureau, his marriage license staff works working remotely from home. Mr. McSweeney recounted that he personally went to the offices of the Marriage Bureau to pick up received return marriage licenses covering the periods of March and April 2020 in order to process them. About half of the licenses mailed to the Marriage Bureau from Brooklyn and Staten Island were officiated and signed by a rabbi.

Mr. McSweeney remarked that, on April 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that marriages should not be stopped because government offices are closed. As a result, Mr. McSweeney collaborated with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson to find a technological solution. Mr. McSweeney’s office, with the help of the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT) developed Project Cupid, a virtual online platform. With the use of a smartphone, tablet or laptop, a person can go online, see a clerk, show identification online and apply for a marriage license. The online platform allows the marriage license applicant to electronically sign an affidavit and file the marriage license application.

Mr. McSweeney acknowledged that despite the successful new system, the Marriage Bureau is struggling to meet the demand for marriage licenses. Prior to Covid-19, the bureau was able to accommodate 300 couples on any given day in August, the busiest month for marriage licenses. Mr. McSweeney speculated that August might be the busiest month because many Jews refrain from marrying for three weeks in July. Usually, the Marriage Bureau issues approximately 8,000 marriage licenses a year. Covid-19 has slowed the process because people still need to make an appointment for online registration. 

Despite these challenges, the Marriage Bureau is able to offer marriage licenses in a remote and safe way so that everyone can feel comfortable applying. The Marriage Bureau asks that people who apply make sure to keep their appointment, thereby allowing the bureau to help everyone who wants to get married.

City Clerk McSweeney said, “We have established guidelines to allow for marriage officiants to officiate virtually. Although it may not address the religious definition and requirements of a marriage to which a rabbi is bound, it does allow a couple to obtain a civil marriage. As City Clerk you have my commitment that we are dealing with a work in progress and we will continue to strive to help all who want a marriage license obtain one. I am honored to call the Rabbinical Alliance of America an important partner in this venture.”

 

Names In Pictures

Picture (1) A group picture taken with New York City Clerk &  Clerk of the Council Michael McSweeney. Top row standing left to right, Rabbi Dovid Katz, Menahel, RAA/Igud; Rabbi Chesky Blau; Rabbi Moish Schmerler, director, RAA/Igud; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA/Igud; Larry Gordon, Publisher and Editor, Five Towns Jewish Times; New York City Clerk and Clerk of the Council Michael McSweeney; and Rabbi Meir Melnick

Bottom row seated, Rabbi Aharon Kahan; Rabbi Zvi Mandel; Rabbi Yoel Ehrenreich; Rabbi Yaakov Klass; presidium chairman, RAA/Igud; and Rabbi Dr. Joseph Frager, chairman Israel Advocacy Commission, RAA/Igud

Picture (2) Names Left to Right, Rabbi Yaakov Klass; presidium chairman, RAA/Igud; New York City Clerk and Clerk of the Council Michael McSweeney; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA/Igud; Rabbi Dovid Katz, Menahel, RAA/Igud; and Rabbi Aharon Kahan

Picture (3) Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA/Igud; welcoming and greeting New York City Clerk and Clerk of the Council Michael McSweeney

Picture (4) Names Left to Right, Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA/Igud; Larry Gordon, Publisher and Editor, Five Towns Jewish Times; and Rabbi Dr. Joseph Frager, chairman Israel Advocacy Commission, RAA/Igud

Picture (5) New York City Clerk and Clerk of the Council Michael McSweeney presenting an update to the Rabbis on the status of obtaining a marriage license in the time of Covid

Picture (6) Group photos of the Rabbis having a round table discussion with New York City Clerk and Clerk of the Council Michael McSweeney on the topic of obtaining a marriage license in the time of Covid

Picture (7)  Rabbi Yaakov Klass; presidium chairman, RAA/Igud; welcoming and greeting New York City Clerk and Clerk of the Council Michael McSweeney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Rav Dr. Aaron Glatt: Covid Update July 30 & August 1

Below is an update on the Covid situation from Rav Dr. Aaron Glatt, RAA/Igud’s Director of Halacha and Medicine Commision, dated July 30, 2020 (the situation changes day to day). He will provide a live update on Motzei Shabbos, August 2 at 9:45pm NY time

COVID-19 Update July 30, 2020

Rabbi Aaron E. Glatt, MD

Unfortunately, Moshiach did not come (yet!) and I am writing another COVID-19 update.

While there is always a lot of new information, I will send out updates less frequently unless there are significant local or medical changes. I will continue for now our 9:45 PM motzei Shabbos Zoom talk addressing common questions, and I will also devote some time this week to discussing the many questions I am asked regarding shalom bayis issues caused by COVID-19 that might be applicable to all.

What is new epidemiologically speaking?

After weeks of sharp increases in the United States, there were some signs that COVID-19 cases were plateauing, albeit at a higher daily rate than a month ago. Seven-day daily averages of new confirmed cases were the lowest it has been in the U.S. in the past 2 weeks.

Three more states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico were added to the tri-state quarantine list, bringing the list to almost all the states in the country except those in the Northeast corridor above NY. The CDC warned it may already be too late to really control spread in the US, but clearly efforts have been effective to a certain extent in preventing some spread.

What have we learned from camps?

Camps have been open for a month now, and the information is partially good, although I am involved with one situation where one institution has not been dealing appropriately with potential widespread illness in their camp. Certainly, there have been cases identified in a number of camps, and some have closed in part or ended early, but Boruch Hashem we have not seen large outbreaks in adults associated with camps. This bodes well for school openings in my opinion, although a report in JAMA Pediatrics discussed below has somewhat dampened my optimism.

Does the Chazzan still need to be masked? What about the Ba’alei Kriah?

Unfortunately, based upon the current incidence in the US, even though our local numbers are still low, I do not feel comfortable recommending any changes in our davening. We still have new cases every day coming in to local hospitals. There are still 40-60 new cases in Nassau County daily, with the numbers in NYC also significant. The chazzan and ba’alei kriah are singing loudly and are potentially “contagious” beyond 6 feet (see below). Following our poskim, I remain extra cautious at this time.

A novel paper published in the Journal of Internal Medicine reiterated that universal public masking during the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most important pillars of disease control. However, most Interestingly, they proposed a new theory why masks are vital. Based on their preliminary modeling, they showed masking reduced the COVID-19 viral inoculum to which a mask-wearer was exposed, leading to milder (or asymptomatic) infection instead of more contagious symptomatic ones.

This “inoculum” theory argues for a major protective effect for the mask wearer à preservation of life and less transmission as society re-opens. This link between masking and lower viral inoculum, resulting in less contagious asymptomatic infection is yet another great reason to mask.

Furthermore, the NY Times had an excellent op-ed piece from a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. She presented an excellent review of why social distancing really is important, demonstrating that it keeps us out of the most concentrated parts of other people’s respiratory plumes. So, stay away from one another by one or two meters at least – though farther is safer. And, she exhorted, wear a mask. Masks block aerosols released by the wearer, and masks protect the wearer from breathing in aerosols around them.

Any more exciting news regarding vaccines?

Yes, several phase three vaccine trials did start this week! I know some individuals reading this have already enrolled in such trials, and there will be more opportunities soon to come for those interested, including hopefully at Mount Sinai South Nassau as well as other academic centers in the NYC region.

Any proven published cases of individual getting COVID-19 a second time?

Still nothing. It remains very reassuring, that with tens of millions of COVID-19 cases worldwide, there are still zero published cases, and even unproven reports of reinfection remain quite rare.

What did he say last motzei Shabbos about wood alcohol and hand sanitizers?

Sorry again for the confusion. Here is the link for the FDA statement: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol. The FDA warned consumers and health care providers that the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested. That wasn’t so hard to say, was it?

The FDA advises consumers not to use hand sanitizers from the companies, or products with these names or NDC numbers at this link: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol#products.

What’s with the hydroxychloroquine video on the Supreme Court steps?

Medscape tried to get information on the doctors involved in this video. They could not come up with any information showing that they actually treated COVID-19 patients, as some did not even have medical licenses or active medical careers or were not internists.

The American College of Physicians the largest and most respected internal medicine society in the world, published the following statement in the Annals of internal Medicine: Three large, randomized controlled trials with strong study designs ceased enrollment for the hydroxychloroquine versus control comparison early due to lack of efficacy in preliminary analyses. In addition, the 2 literature updates produced no evidence to alter these conclusions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also recently revoked its emergency use authorization for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 due to potential significant harms and lack of benefits.

What new information was published this week?

1) The Journal Science Advances published a novel paper as to why patients with COVID-19 lose their sense of smell. One would have thought the virus was attacking sensory neurons, the cells involved in smell. However, researchers at Harvard Medical School showed the virus is incapable of doing this. Instead, certain “support” cells are injured, with the good news being they can more quickly regenerate and heal than sensory cells. As a result, the authors stated that most patients regained their sense of smell in several weeks.

2) As I mentioned last week, a large high school COVID-19 outbreak in Jerusalem occurred upon school reopening. Data on this was published this week in Eurosurveillance.

Testing of the complete school revealed 153 students (13.2%) and 25 staff members (16.6%) were COVID-19 positive. Overall, some 260 persons were infected (students, staff members, relatives and friends). Classes in the affected school were more crowded than the average elsewhere.

They concluded that classmates and teachers should be considered close contacts (particularly in crowded classes), as should students in groups mixing several classes, extra-curricular activities and school buses. This will obviously be something to be considered as we reopen our Yeshivas and schools.

3) An Israeli study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at all vaccines (57) that were FDA-approved between January 1996 and December 2015. This comprehensive review of 20 years’ worth of data found that U.S. vaccines were remarkably safe, thanks in part to a robust ongoing safety surveillance program post marketing. Over this 20-year period, only one vaccine had to be recalled, and unexpected complications were mostly of limited clinical significance. Bodes well for COVID-19…

4) Why do some COVID-19 patients transmit virus, while others don’t?

A JAMA editorial provided new insights into this important question based upon several published papers. The secondary attack rate for COVID-19 is actually low. Case series that have evaluated close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients reported only about 5% of contacts become infected. However, even this low attack rate is not spread evenly but varies depending on the duration and intensity of contact. The risk is highest among household members, with transmission rates between 10% – 40%. Close but less sustained contact such as sharing a meal is associated with a secondary attack rate of about 7%, whereas passing interactions among people shopping is associated with a secondary attack rate of 0.6%. Very reassuring to people who have a transient exposure to an unmasked person near them in an office, train or other setting for a brief period of time.

5) Mothers infected with COVID-19 are unlikely to pass disease to newborns when proper precautions are taken according to The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. They reported no cases of viral transmission among 120 babies born to 116 mothers with COVID-19, even though they shared a room and the mothers nursed these babies. All neonates were tested at 24 hours of life and none were positive for COVID-19. Almost all had a repeat COVID-19 test at 5–7 days of life – and all were negative. And 88% were also tested at 14 days of life and none were positive then either. No baby had any symptoms of COVID-19. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted that after months of national and international experience with newborns born to mothers who tested positive, no published report has identified an infant who has died during the initial birth hospitalization as a direct result of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, they officially now recommend that mothers with COVID-19 may room-in with their newborn infants according to usual center practice, and continue to endorse moms to breastfeed their babies, even if infants could get COVID-19 while breastfeeding. Very reassuring

6) Two more published studies demonstrated that treatment with steroids or immune inhibitors was beneficial. The Journal of Hospital Medicine found patients with high inflammation levels treated with steroids had a 75% reduction in risk of going on mechanical ventilation or dying. And JAMA open Network showed that Interleukin 7 (IL-7) can be safely administered to critically ill patients reversing a pathologic hallmark of COVID-19 infection. They concluded that IL-7 alone or in combination with other therapies warrants serious consideration for treating COVID-19.

7) And speaking of therapy, convalescent plasma therapy is finally – possibly – going to obtain emergency authorization use FDA approval next week. While the evidence fully supporting this is still scant, positive published data are forthcoming.

8) In my experience COVID-19 has been one of the most complex viruses we have ever had to deal with, considering the many conflicting scientific reports published. So, I will conclude this update with more conflicting scientific news regarding COVID-19 in young children. JAMA Pediatrics reported on 145 patients with mild to moderate illness within 1 week of symptom onset: 46 children younger than 5 years; 51 children 5 to 17; and 48 adults aged 18 to 65 years. They showed that older children and adults had similar levels of viral nucleic acid, but the children younger than 5 years had significantly greater COVID-19 nucleic acid detected in their noses. What does this mean re transmission? Unknown, but certainly more to come…

On that note,

Have a great Shabbos.

color-twitter-48.png
color-facebook-48.png
color-link-48.png

 



 

[category weekly]
Copyright © 2020 RAA Igud HaRabbonim, All rights reserved.

RabbinicalAlliance.org

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp