We talked to two prominent members of the Washington, DC Jewish community about how they’ve spent their time in quarantine
Of course, all hope is not lost. There are many stories of people accomplishing long-held goals and keeping their spirits strong during the lockdown. We talked to two prominent members of the Washington, DC Jewish community about how they’ve spent their time in quarantine.
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) in Washington, DC
ovid-19 has been a truly horrific plague upon the entire world. Death, suffering, fear. Shuls, schools and yeshivas are shuttered, people shattered.
While it is terrible to have our normal communal interaction curtailed, this current dilemma is - for whatever reason beyond our understanding - the will of Hashem. I am surely among many who found their shiurim, learning and davening more focused, their family time more plentiful and undisturbed, and their thinking significantly clearer, even amid the obvious worries about the future.
We have also seen incredible kindness within our community, and in our public servants and administration officials. Almost the entirety of our own Jewish community behaved nobly and responsibly, despite the few visible exceptions who caused grave damage to the rest of us.
Personally, I spent time helping activate our network to bring necessary support and connection to numerous people and organizations doing amazing things for the community. I somehow also found time to work on my upcoming book and connected to numerous friends and supporters with more clarity.
We obviously join in mourning all those who experienced sorrow in these times. We salute with unlimited gratitude the Hatzalah members and other first responders and medical personnel who have literally sacrificed their lives and comfort to save others.
And we pray to Hakadosh Baruch Hu that he imminently cease our pain and lead us all up to Yerushalayim to receive the Torah anew this Shavuos, with Moshiach Tzidkeinu at our helm.
Nathan J. Diament, executive director of Orthodox Union Advocacy Center
y work has been more intense than ever. The disruptive impact of the shutdown of our community’s shuls, yeshivos, day schools, and other institutions has been unprecedented – including in economic terms. Thus, we have been working nonstop to advocate that the various response programs enacted by Congress and the Trump administration include charitable nonprofit organizations -- including religious ones.
Baruch Hashem, we have had success. The forgivable loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and K-12 school stabilization funds from the Education Department are available for our community, and we have been helping institutions obtain this critical support. As the impact of the crisis lingers, we are now working to obtain further support as Congress crafts its next package of Covid-19 response legislation this month.
One positive aspect I have seen day in and day out is that, with all its harm, this crisis has reaffirmed that there are so many people working in government who are dedicated to serving their constituents and the common good. Alongside so many on the “front lines” -- from hospitals to grocery stores -- these public servants also deserve our appreciation.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 810)
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