Message from Rabbi Spitz

A State Of National Emergency

Our country is now in a “State of National Emergency.” In that light, let me follow-up on my email yesterday with some questions and answers.

How is COVID-19 different than the flu? 
        First and foremost it is far more deadly. The rate of death from the common flu is one out of a thousand cases.  In an article in today’s in Lancet, a premier medical journal, the estimated death rate is  20% of those infected in Wuhan, China (the center of the outbreak)  and the Chinese mortality rate overall was from 5-6% (50-60 times as deadly as the flu). Outside of China, the mortality rate is lower and less certain due to lack of testing and is estimated as between 1.5- 5%. In sum, this pandemic is far more deadly than then flu and for many who survive, there is the possibility of lung damage that could entail living with limitations.
        Some other differences, flu symptoms usually appear in the first 2-3 days. With coronavirus, the lag time may be up to fourteen days, during which a person may unknowingly infect others. Even though children overwhelmingly fare better than adults, they are still carriers who may transfer the virus. For those in each decade over the age of 50, the mortality rate goes up significantly. While we have a flu vaccine to reduce catching the flu and its symptoms, we do not yet have a vaccine for COVID-19 and we lack the immunity that we have for the flu. The coronavirus is very catchy and may spread exponentially unless slowed by vigilant prevention.
        Beware of those who would minimize the danger!  This pandemic is serious and requires heightened care to prevent catching and transmitting.

Should I go to synagogue?
        I discourage you from attending unless you have a strong need to be present. You do have the option of participating from your home via our live stream: Click for Friday. Click for Saturday. We ask that those present maintain a social distance of six feet from others- no elbow bumps this week as we now know that doing so is too physically close. We have removed the talitotand kippot,  as fabric may transfer the virus. Our Torah readers will not be sharing the yad, the traditional pointer, and the Torah processional will only take place at the front of the sanctuary and without kissing.

What can I do in response to all the stress of such dire warnings and unknowns?
        To reduce stress, know that love is also contagious. This is our opportunity to display our love for our families and for each other.  If now working from home, consider the time saved in commuting and may you use that time for enjoyment and self-care.  This crisis shall pass.
        How we respond now as a nation, congregation, and personally will define the nature of our character. We are a Jewish people seasoned by challenges for resilience. Let us reach out to others with an open heart of genuine support and care.

        I valued the time that I had today on the Zoom conversation with congregants. I will schedule such a virtual meeting next week so that we can hear each other and lend support, perspective, and belonging. 

        I share below a couple of items from Twitter that made me smile.
        Blessings to you and your family of Shabbat Shalom.

        Your rabbi,