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.
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. ”
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.
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)
According to leaders of the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), a Washington, D.C. think tank (its mission is “to shape the discourse and mobilize support among American Jewish leaders and U.S. policymakers for the realization of a viable two-state solution”) discussions with Jordan’s King Abdullah revealed that if Israel annexes unilaterally parts of the occupied West Bank, the Jordanian Palestinian “street” (70% of Jordanian citizens claim Palestinian heritage) would strongly protest. The King told the IPF that he would have no choice but to withdraw from the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty.
To read my entire blog, see Times of Israel at https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/annexation-will-doom-the-israeli-jordanian-peace-agreement/
The following was posted on the Rabbinic List Serve RAVKAV for the Reform Rabbinate by Rabbi Fred Davidow who gave me permission to post it here.
This story illustrates why Joe Biden is so beloved and respected and why Joementum happened across the country on Super Tuesday since Joe’s remarkable win in South Carolina.
Though I posted an endorsement for Mike Bloomberg a few weeks ago (I did it because Joe was sinking and I thought Bloomberg was the only candidate that could beat Trump – no longer), I have always loved Joe. I am so pleased that he has now catapulted to be the hoped-for winner of the Democratic nomination for President. He has my full support going forward and I hope that Mike Bloomberg decides to suspend his campaign and give his support to Biden and support down-ballot races to keep the House and win the Senate.
Here is that posting.
“S’iz an emese mayse.”
About 16 years ago Rabbi Michael Beals, rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, DE, led a shiva minyan for a woman named Mrs. Greenhouse. She had not been a person of means and lived in rent-controlled housing in a tall-rise building in the Wilmington area. Her apartment was too small for the minyan so the ten elders assembled in the communal laundry room in the basement of the high-rise. It was the most humble of places.
Toward the end of the service, a door at the back of the laundry room opened, and in walked Senator Joe Biden, his head lowered, all by himself. I nearly dropped my prayer book in shock. Senator Biden stood quietly in the back of the room for the duration of the service.
After the Kaddish Rabbi Beals walked over to him and asked the same question that was on everyone else’s mind: “Senator Biden, what are you doing here?”
And he said to me: “Listen, back in 1972, when I first ran for the Senate, Mrs. Greenhouse gave $18 to my first campaign. Because that’s what she could afford. And every six years, when I’d run for reelection, she’d give another $18. She did it her whole life. I’m here to show my respect and gratitude.”
No reporters, no photographers, no dignitaries were there. Just ten elders in a basement laundry room. Joe Biden didn’t come to that service for political gain. He came because he has character. He came because he’s a mensch. We need a mensch as the leader of our country.
Rabbi Beals tells as many people who will listen that Biden is that mensch.
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. Here is the link to register and vote – www.ZionistElection.org – Simply follow all prompts. It will take you 90 seconds. The $7.50 charge is an administrative charge only. Please forward this to your children and grandchildren over the age of 18.
Here is vital information about the World Zionist Congress and why it is so important that we as Reform and Reconstructionist American Jews vote en masse for our Reform slate in this election.
What is the World Zionist Congress?
The World Zionist Congress (WZC) is the World Zionist Organization’s (WZO) legislative body (the parliament of the Jewish people) that meets every five years in Jerusalem. The Congress is the only body in which all of World Jewry is represented democratically, and, therefore, is our only American Jewish democratic opportunity to influence Israeli society. The larger our Reform vote in this election in the American Zionist movement the more influence we will have as American Reform Jews in Israeli society and the more funds our Israeli Reform movement will receive from the WZO.
What do the World Zionist Congress (WZC) and World Zionist Organization (WZO) do?
- The WZC determines policy on a wide range of important issues in Israel, designates its course of action, and chooses the leadership of the World Zionist Organization.
- The WZC makes decisions that affect the status of Reform and progressive Jews in Israel and across the world.
- The WZO allocates considerable funding available to Progressive Reform Jews in Israel!!!
- Our Israeli Reform movement (called “The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism – IMPJ”) currently receives $4 million annually from the WZO based on our success in the last WZC election five years ago. The Israeli Reform movement receives no funds from the government of Israel. The government, however, gives hundreds of millions of Israeli shekels to Israeli Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox synagogues and yeshivot. If we increase our Reform presence in the WZC with a larger vote total this year in the American Zionist Movement delegation we can increase funding substantially to our Israel Reform movement, our Israeli Reform congregations, our Israeli Reform rabbis, and social justice programs that our movement in Israel fights on behalf of religious pluralism, civil marriage, conversion rights, women’s and LGBTQ rights, justice for asylum seekers, poverty, and a shared society with Israeli-Arab citizens.
I’m proud of the strength and diversity of the Reform and Reconstructionist Slate, and I’m asking you to help me get out the vote and support egalitarianism, pluralism, and peace in Israel.
I am a candidate on the Reform slate and I will have the opportunity to travel to Israel and be a delegate in the World Zionist Congress in October 2020.
You can read the Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism platform here.
Polls are open NOW through March 11, 2020. Please vote and ask every Jew in your household over the age of 18 to vote along with you. Please pass this blog along to anyone, family and friends, who you believe will be moved to vote.
Thank you in advance.
Rabbi John Rosove
#VoteReformWZC – www.ZionistElection.org
Issues are important. Ideology is important. But, over and above these two concerns, the most important matter come November is what candidate can beat Donald Trump for the presidency.
I am endorsing Mike Bloomberg for President for many substantive reasons, as I list below. However, I have chosen to support him first and foremost because I believe he is the only candidate (among many outstanding candidates) who can beat Trump and begin to reject Trumpism from the body politic.
The state of our democracy, the issues of climate, guns, healthcare, a livable minimum wage, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, education, a women’s right to choose, justice for black, brown, and immigrant communities, the advance of science, knowledge, and technology, the respect for facts and truth-telling, a sane foreign policy that restores America’s alliances, the return to the Iran Nuclear Agreement and the Paris Climate Accord, among other things all are at stake in this election.
Thomas Friedman’s column Paging Michael Bloomberg – Democrats need to nominate the right person to prevent Trump from winning a second term – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/opinion/bloomberg-president-2020.html is must reading.
In ways no other candidate does, Mike Bloomberg inspires confidence in his executive abilities. He has a proven track record as a successful businessman who created from nothing a massive company of 20,000 employees and served three terms as Mayor of New York City, the largest and most diverse city in America.
As Mayor his accomplishments are extensive. He reduced incarceration by 40% and juvenile confinement by more than 60%. He brought down the rates of domestic violence. He narrowed the black-white achievement gap by 23%. He increased affordable housing. He reduced the number of uninsured New Yorkers by nearly 50%. He achieved NYC’s cleanest air quality in 50 years. He persuaded NY State Republicans to pass marriage equality. He was the first to officiate at a same gender marriage.
As a philanthropist, Bloomberg helped close half the nation’s dirty coal plants. He took on big tobacco and led the charge to cut teen smoking in half. He protected a woman’s right to choose and wrote a quarter-million dollar check to Planned Parenthood when it had a shortfall. He took on the NRA with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and then Every town for Gun Safety — a grassroots coalition that made the difference in turning so many states blue in the recent midterms. He contributed more money to black female candidates in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections than any individual. His Young Men’s Initiative helped black and Latino youth with education, employment, and health care and became the model for President Obama’s national program, My Brother’s Keeper.
I had two concerns about Bloomberg, both of which have been put to rest. First, he is doing teshuvah (repentance) concerning his stop and frisk policy as Mayor. It’s important to understand that he turned to that policy after being approached by black and brown mothers begging him to do something about gun violence in their New York communities. He reduced the murder rate in NYC dramatically due to this policy. But his policy was a blanket brush stroke against all black and brown young men and therefore grossly unfair and racist. He has been apologizing for the hurt he caused and has been meeting — away from any cameras — with black pastors, mayors, and New Yorkers, listening to their stories, their pain, and to their recommendations. Last week, after a meeting with thirty African-American Christian clergy, they issued the following statement:
“While Donald Trump was calling Mike Bloomberg a racist, Mike was continuing his conversation with African-American clergy from around the country. He expressed regret over his past insensitivity regarding policies like stop and frisk, and showed a continued interest in restorative justice. To be clear: None of us believe that Mike Bloomberg is a racist. Actions speak louder than words, and Mike has a long record of fighting for equality, civil rights, and criminal justice reform.”
The black mayors supporting Bloomberg include Houston’s Sylvester Turner, Philadelphia’s former Mayor Michael Nutter, and Columbia South Carolina’s Steve Benjamin. They helped shape and support the policy Bloomberg rolled out last month called the “Greenwood Initiative” devoted to growing black-American generational wealth.
Bloomberg is committed to creating one million new black homeowners, seeding 100,000 black businesses, giving $70 billion to neighborhoods that need it most.
Look at Bloomberg’s website (www.mikebloomberg.com) and see his plans to give law-abiding immigrants a path to citizenship, to give uninsured Americans a path to healthcare, veterans a path to job training, and those who have worked in fossil fuel industries a path to be part of the clean energy economy.
Bloomberg’s commitment to Israel’s security is long-term. He celebrates its achievements in agriculture, science, and technology, donates to its institutions, and visits often. He believes in a two-state strategy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that includes Palestinians with Israel in negotiations, and he cautions against decisions that make that goal harder (i.e. annexation and settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank). He has no tolerance for making U.S. military aid conditional, no tolerance for anti-Semitism whether it’s on the streets of Charlottesville or the campus of a university. Bloomberg believes that Holocaust education is essential to keep history alive and make those lessons urgent. In 2014, he jumped on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv when the FAA grounded planes into Ben Gurion airport during the Gaza war, and last month he renounced Trump’s absurd and dangerous charge that one can’t be both pro-Israel and a Democrat.
The other issue that was of concern to me has also been addressed; namely, his vulgar expressions about women and the 40 lawsuits settled over a period of 40 years in his company of 20,000 employees. Bloomberg apologized for his comments more than once. He has never been, however, a sexual predator like the man in the White House. I know two of his female staff. They are both strong feminists and would never work for a man they didn’t believe was trustworthy. Their advocacy for him is good enough for me.
I thank Abby Pogrebin, Mike Bloomberg’s national Jewish liaison, for providing me with some of the above, and Danielle Berrin, formerly a journalist with the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and now the California liaison to the Jewish community, for addressing my deepest concerns.
In sum, we cannot afford to lose this next election to Trump and we cannot afford to allow the Senate to remain in the do-nothing Republican Senate’s hands. I have confidence that Mike Bloomberg can be successful in defeating Trump and changing the Senate into Democratic hands.
Per Thomas Friedman, Mike Bloomberg is as “tough as a rattlesnake.” Those who know him say he is as decent and moral to his core as we would ever want in a President. This is why I endorse him wholeheartedly and believe that he is the only candidate that can defeat Trump in November.