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Sputnik Moment   

The general consensus was that the Russian offering was bound to be subpar


Trump’s spirits, along with his approval ratings, are definitely on the up. At a weekend rally in Iowa, he basked in the adulation of the crowd, and spoke of his 53% approval ratings in the state.

Will he or won’t he run in 2024? That question is set to dominate American politics for the next few years, but until then, he’s the GOP kingmaker.

Meanwhile, with a 40% approval rating, according to Quinnipiac, Joe Biden is unquestionably the fall guy of the week. Honeymoon over, voters have noticed that responsible-adult-in-the-room governance, which Biden was meant to epitomize, hasn’t quite materialized.


Sputnik Moment

When Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced last year that his country had triumphed in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, it made good PR sense to call the shot “Sputnik,” in a nod to the Soviet space race breakthrough.

The news didn’t set off a Sputnik crisis, though, because the general consensus was that the Russian offering was, to put it politely, bound to be subpar.

So the reports that Russian intelligence actually stole the vaccine data of the Oxford/Astra-Zeneca shot have opened up an intriguing possibility. If Russia went for Astra-Zeneca, perhaps China’s Sinopharm vaccine is based on Pfizer. In which case, instead of waiting in line for a booster, you can simply order one on Ali Express.


The Backstory

A video this week of Mayor Gabe Groisman of Bal Harbour, Florida, accompanied by the Kosel Rav, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, putting a note into the Kosel on behalf of Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s wife, who has cancer, made the rounds.

But according to Groisman, who is close to the staunchly pro-Israel governor, prayer and DeSantis himself came together in tragic circumstances a few months ago.

A week after the Surfside disaster, the phone rang at the Chabad of Aventura, a few miles to the north.

On the line was Governor DeSantis’s staff with a request. The governor had spent hours with the desperate families over the previous week, cutting red tape to expedite disaster relief and personally authorizing an Israeli rescue team to fly in. Now he wanted to visit the shul over Shabbos, and spend time with the shocked community, which contained some of the bereaved.

In an exchange that wasn’t reported at the time, says Groisman, DeSantis’s scheduler was told that, yes, the governor was welcome — on one condition. Given that it was Shabbos, the visit would be off limits to media, and no pictures allowed.

So that Shabbos, the shul in the Miami suburb witnessed a moving sight: the most powerful man in America’s third-largest state, spent several hours listening and talking to the harrowed families — and saying Psalms.

“That tells you a lot about the governor,” says Groisman, who’s worked alongside DeSantis on legislation combating anti-Semitism at city level. “There was no media play here — he just wanted to do the right thing.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 881)

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