When it comes to selling a product, Judaism has very strict laws. Maimonides, the medieval Jewish scholar documents some of these laws in his legal code known as the Mishneh Torah.
If one weighs with weights that are deficient by the standards agreed upon in his locality, or measures with a measuring vessel deficient by the agreed standards, he violates a negative commandment, for Torah states (Leviticus 19:35), ‘You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in length, in weight, or in measure. (Laws of Theft 7:1)
Similarly, in measurement of land, if one deceives another when measuring land, he violates a negative commandment, for when Torah says, ‘You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in length,’ ‘in length’ refers to land measurement.” (Laws of Theft 7:9) 
Maimonides drives home that Judaism has no tolerance for a merchant who is careless and/or deceptive with his or her weights and measures. This is because selling a product that doesn’t “measure up” to what we claim the product to be is the definition of unrighteousness. What we sell to our customers must be exactly what we promise that product to be – nothing less.
When it comes to doing business, Judaism demands the we know exactly what it is that we’re selling and we do everything in our power to ensure that what our customers purchase from us is what we promise it will be.
As South Florida struggles with how and when our schools will reopen, I’ve been thinking a lot about our tradition’s strict demands. Many of us don’t like to think of schools as a “business.” Doing so, makes schools seem impersonal. However, when it comes down to it, schools are businesses. Whether it be private schools that are funded by parents or public schools that are funded, in part, by tax dollars, schools offer services to us and to our children – mainly a safe, engaging environment where our kids can learn and grow. If you’re fortunate enough to be part of a school that actually promises and provides students, parents and staff (our teachers and other school employees need to feel safe and engaged too!) with this environment, you know that there is nothing impersonal about a school that runs a business that delivers what it promises.
Right now, many of us are focused on the safety of the schools that we might be sending our children to in just a few weeks. Unfortunately, no school can offer complete protection from COVID-19. This being said, as you speak with your schools, you have the obligation and the right as a “customer” to learn about the safety protocols that are being put in place to protect your child and his/her teachers. If you choose to send your child to school, as a “customer” you have the obligation and the right to ensure that these protocols are actually enforced. Remember, our tradition demands that, when it comes to a business transaction, we get what we’re promised. And, whether we like the terminology or not, enrolling our child in school is a business transaction.
One of the issues that we’re all concerned about is school transparency when it comes to the handling of a child or adult in the school and/or a family member of a child or adult in the school who tests positive to COVID-19. Before you put your child in a school, please get the facts. Learn what you will be told and how things will be handled.
I’m blessed to have Lindsay Duggar at the helm of our Early Childhood Center. She has done her homework and is in regular contact with our own health experts and local, state and federal agencies that create policy regarding school safety and the pandemic. The situation is fluid and changing every day and we must stay on top of things. As things evolve, we’re committed to keeping you informed. We’re committed to transparency as we believe this is essential to the health and well-being of our students, staff and overall congregation.
It troubles me to learn from Lindsay that there is still a lot of “fuzziness” out there when it comes to COVID-19, our schools and what should and must be shared and reported. This fuzziness makes me think about Maimonides’ concerns about inaccurate weights and measures. Fuzziness doesn’t make for good business.  Fuzziness doesn’t help us ensure that our schools are as safe as possible. One example of the fuzziness: I was surprised to learn that schools are not required to inform families if a parent of a student in your child’s classroom tests positive to COVID-19. I completely support the need to protect everyone’s privacy. However, if it’s known that someone in my child’s classroom has been exposed to COVID-19, I would want to know. Will your child’s school tell you? Please ask! At Ramat Shalom, while we will protect everyone’s privacy, we have and will continue to let our Early Childhood families know if anyone in our school building is exposed to COVID-19. This is part of the transparency that we believe is essential to promising and providing a safe school environment during these trying times. Please know that this transparency will guide us when the time is right to reopen our Sanctuary Building.

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