Winston Churchill & Fearless Leadership in Times of Crisis – NPR’s Fresh Air

Erik Larson writes about Winston Churchill’s first year in office when Great Britain stood virtually alone against Nazi Germany and its cities were pounded by a ferocious bombing campaign. Larson says that Churchill worked around the clock, told citizens the truth about the risks they faced, and inspired them with moving speeches and his personal conduct.

Larson’s book is The Splendid and the Vile – A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz when 45,000 English were killed in bombing raids by the Nazis.

This 28-minute interview elucidates the character of one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century and stands in stark contrast to America’s national leadership today. I recommend that you listen not only to be inspired by Churchill’s leadership, but to be instructed about Trump’s failures. Having said this, it’s important to emphasize that we are, indeed, seeing great leadership during this crisis by many of our nation’s governors and mayors.

Food insecurity in the United States and MAZON’s Response

As the coronavirus spreads, MAZON is carefully monitoring the situation, coordinating with its grantee partners and other colleagues across the country, gathering the latest information, and advocating at the federal and state level for swift and effective action to expand access to food assistance for those affected. While it is true that all states and communities will be impacted, MAZON is committed to listening for and lifting up the needs and concerns of those places where there is a disproportionate impact, including in the most food-insecure states as well as those states already reporting large numbers of coronavirus cases. Over the coming days and weeks, MAZON will act as an information clearinghouse for the most-up-to date information from these states as MAZON works to ensure essential services, government benefits and food assistance to all who need them. Please share this resource and visit often for updated information.

Victor Frankl and today’s health care workers will be remembered

More and more harrowing and inspiring stories are becoming known about medical school students at NYU and UCSF medical schools (among others) and emergency care doctors and nurses in NYC and around the country who are committing themselves to helping the sick at great personal risk. Their courage and selflessness will be one of the noble memories that we will recall once this crisis has passed.

Victor Frankl reflected with these words – I did not change the gender language as he wrote it:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. ” 

Fourteen Days. That’s the Most Time We Have to Defeat Coronavirus – Ezekiel J Emanuel – NY Times Op-ed

These decisive measures can prevent a decade of dislocation and extraordinary levels of deaths.

By Ezekiel J. Emanuel – NYT Op-ed, March 24

Dr. Emanuel’s comprehensive plan is the most cogent and comprehensive short-term and long-term road-map I have seen to confront the virus. Read not only what he wrote, but some of the initial comments.

I know that Trump will be disinclined to follow Emanuel’s thoughtful plan, but hopefully, somebody in the administration will read it and persuade our criminally stupid and self-serving President to stop thinking about the economic free-fall of his own hotel properties and re-election prospects and get real for the sake of the lives of American citizens and the country as a whole.

It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases – and he’s preparing the ground to ease up on the restrictions that smart governors, mayors, and local authorities are taking to prepare for the worst to come in very short order.

On Accountability and Responsibility

As I watch the news, I am deeply impressed by leaders such as Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, NY City Mayor Bill De Blasio, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, governors, mayors, city councils, boards of supervisors, Democratic members of the House and Senate, as well as the nation’s doctors, nurses, health care workers, and regular citizens who are stepping up to help the sick, shut-ins, the elderly, poor, and incarcerated.

I am also grateful to the major news organizations who not only are reporting truthfully what is happening and asking the hard questions of the President and the federal government that need to be asked in order to understand what the government is doing and not doing, but using their air, digital, and print-time to educate the population about this crisis and what we can do to protect ourselves, our families, and communities. All of them exhibit our best angels of spirit, intelligence, decency, and will.

They are all filling a yawning chasm left by an irresponsible President Trump who denies the truth, makes false and self-serving exaggerated pronouncements, commands but doesn’t follow up, shirks responsibility (and admits it – “I am not responsible”) that any “war-time” president and administration would take, and blames everyone but himself for the state of this crisis.

I think of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, and Winston Churchill as the extraordinary leaders that they were in the darkest of times, and their memory reminds me that our leaders have the capacity to respond to this crisis if they utilize their intelligence, will, and common decency to do so. I exclude from this criticism people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and a few others in the Federal government who are trying to work around Trump to do what is right for the people of our nation.

On this Shabbat eve, I offer a few quotations from Jewish tradition and beyond on the themes of moral accountability and responsibility. Many of our leaders and citizens are rising to the occasion and fighting the good fight despite the overwhelming speed of the disease’s relentless spread. Their decisions and actions are turning out to be the difference between life and death, and we citizens ought to be enormously grateful to them.

“One who is able to protest against a wrong that is being done in his family, his city, his nation, or the world and doesn’t do so is held accountable for that wrong being done.” (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 54b)

“The legal status of a person is always that of one forewarned, and [that person] is liable for any damage caused, both when awake and when asleep.” (Talmud Bavli, Bava Kamma 3b)

“Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)

“Alas, after a certain age every person is responsible for his face.” (Albert Camus)

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” (Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar)

“You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” (Erica Jong)

“The buck stops here!” (President Harry S. Truman)

“The Top Shin Bet Official who ‘Converted’ a Hamas Supporter to Judaism” – Jerusalem Post

The unimaginably bizarre situation meant that for years this man lived with the dissonance of being both a Hamas operative and an admirer of Judaism.”

By YONAH JEREMY BOB – MARCH 14, 2020, The Jerusalem Post

Note: As Israel battles the Coronavirus, President Reuven Rivlin invited Benny Gantz (the leader of the Blue and White Party) to form the next government (Gantz has a committed majority of 61 seats that includes the recommendation of the Joint List – the four Arab Parties).

This article by Yonah Jeremy Bob of The Jerusalem Post tells the extraordinary story of the conversion of a Hamas terrorist to Judaism, reviews the state of Palestinian leadership and succession in the Palestinian Authority, and reveals the work of the Shin Bet (Israel’s secret service) over the last number of years.

It is an excellent overview and well worth the read as politics are evolving in Israel vis a vis Israeli Arab citizens (the Joint List earned 15 Knesset seats in this last election, the most ever) and within the Palestinian Authority.

Yonah Jeremy Bob is a Foreign Affairs Lecturer and an Intelligence, Terrorism, and Legal Analyst for The Jerusalem Post

“Comfort, O Comfort My People”

As my wife and I practice “social distancing” to protect ourselves, our family, friends, and community, and as we feel the anxiety that so many share, I’ve sought words of comfort as together we face this terrible pandemic.

Martin Buber, quoting Rabbi Pinchas said: “When a person is singing and cannot lift his/her voice and another comes along and sings with him/her, another who can lift that person’s voice, then the first will be able to lift his/her voice too. That is the secret of the bond between spirit and spirit.” (Tales of the Hasidim)

How do we lift each other’s spirit as we isolate ourselves from one another? That’s a fundamental humanitarian question in these days.

Thankfully, we have the internet, social media, telephones, Face-time, streaming of religious services, and the media as a whole to connect us to our families, friends, fellow Jews, and to the world beyond our front doors.

The biblical prophet Isaiah said, “Nachamu, nachamu ami – Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call out to her…” (40:1)

In times of trouble, Isaiah’s words have always inspired and comforted me. Interpreting “Jerusalem” as a Place of peace, comfort, compassion, empathy, and justice, we can extend the meaning of Yerushalayim shel ma-alah (The Heavenly Jerusalem) to include our world community confronting together this frightening pandemic.

“May the One Who dwells in this Place comfort you” is a message inscribed on Kings Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. In our own “places,” may we know good health and feel comfort as we connect with each other in new ways in these days.

Shabbat Shalom.



“Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now”

Politicians, Community Leaders and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When? By Tomas Pueyo 


I have posted a few of Pueyo’s conclusions, but read his entire piece. Link is below.

My gratitude to Chris Hayes of MSNBC who put this article on his twitter feed.

“The current scientific consensus is that this virus can be spread within 2 meters (6 feet) if somebody coughs. Otherwise, the droplets fall to the ground and don’t infect you.

The worst infection then becomes through surfaces: The virus survives for up to 9 days on different surfaces such as metal, ceramics and plastics. That means things like doorknobs, tables, or elevator buttons can be terrible infection vectors.

The only way to truly reduce that is with social distancing: Keeping people home as much as possible, for as long as possible until this recedes.

The US administration’s ban on European travel is good: It has probably bought us a few hours, maybe a day or two. But not more. It is not enough. It’s containment when what’s needed is mitigation.


Mitigation requires heavy social distancing. People need to stop hanging out to drop the transmission rate …

These measures [to effect social distancing] require closing companies, shops, mass transit, schools, enforcing lockdowns… The worse your situation, the worse the social distancing. The earlier you impose heavy measures, the less time you need to keep them, the easier it is to identify brewing cases, and the fewer people get infected.

So the question becomes: What are the tradeoffs we could be making to lower the R[ate of transmission]? This is the menu that Italy has put in front of all of us:

  • Nobody can enter or exit lockdown areas, unless there are proven family or work reasons.
  • Movement inside the areas is to be avoided, unless they are justified for urgent personal or work reasons and can’t be postponed.
  • People with symptoms (respiratory infection and fever) are “highly recommended” to remain home.
  • Standard time off for healthcare workers is suspended
  • Closure of all educational establishments (schools, universities…), gyms, museums, ski stations, cultural and social centers, swimming pools, and theaters.
  • Bars and restaurants have limited opening times from 6am to 6pm, with at least one meter (~3 feet) distance between people.
  • All pubs and clubs must close.
  • All commercial activity must keep a distance of one meter between customers. Those that can’t make it happen must close. Temples can remain open as long as they can guarantee this distance.
  • Family and friends hospital visits are limited
  • Work meetings must be postponed. Work from home must be encouraged.
  • All sports events and competitions, public or private, are canceled. Important events can be held under closed doors.

See entire article and forward to everyone you know and love –


Today – March 11 – is the final day to vote “Reform” in the World Zionist Congress election

Dear Friends:

If you have voted Reform in the World Zionist Congress elections already. Thank you. If members of your extended household have also voted – GREAT! If you or they have not voted (every Jew over the age of 18 is eligible to vote), I ask you to vote now for “Reform” in the World Zionist Congress election.

Here is the link to register and vote – Simply follow all prompts (The Reform and Reconstructionist slate is #2). It will take you 90 seconds to register and vote. The $7.50 charge (over 30 years – $5 under 30 years) is an administrative charge only. Please forward this to your children and grandchildren over the age of 18.

I am a candidate for the Congress and I hope to be a delegate in the next World Zionist Congress in October in Jerusalem.

Your vote for the Reform ticket is an important way to influence policies in line with our liberal Jewish values in the WZC (religious pluralism, democracy, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, a shared society with Arab Israeli citizens) and to assure funding for the Reform movement’s rabbis, congregations, and social justice causes in the State of Israel.

Please click on the link now and vote. I thank you in advance.