The Talmud says: “Teach your tongue to say: I do not know. If you don’t, you will become entangled in a web of deceit.” (Berakhot 4a) At the foundation of our faith is this fundamental truth: despite all the knowledge we have, there are things out there that are still unknown. The rabbis teach us that if we are too afraid to admit this, we will never learn the truth.  (Pirkei Avot 2:5)
Cheryl, Jonah and I tested positive for COVID upon our return from Jackson Hole early Sunday morning. For Cheryl and me, the first few days were rough, but we’re on the mend. Jonah has had no symptoms. Abigail tested negative. To the best of our ability, Cheryl and I have done everything that the CDC and other health officials have told us to do. We’re vaccinated and boosted, as are the kids. Cheryl and I have been pretty strict with our mask wearing, particularly when out and about in public spaces. We stay away from large gatherings. When the kids came home from college, we had them tested. We chose Jackson Hole as our vacation destination because all of our activities were outdoors. We rented a private home and had extremely limited contact with others. We were worried about traveling during this phase of the pandemic, but, according to everything I learned from our nation’s leaders, if we wore our masks and were fully immunized, traveling last week was okay. Yet, here we are, wrestling with COVID. As a result, I’ve been asking lots of questions and looking for answers. How did we get this? Was it in the airport or on the plane? Did one of us get it before we left and shared it as a terrible, late Chanukah present? I’m trying to teach my tongue to say, “I do not know,” but I’m having a hard time doing so, because, like many of you, I don’t deal well with the unknown. At the same time, I know that it really doesn’t matter how we got this. We have it and we’re pushing through.
Since I’ve been stuck at home for the past few days, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to government officials guide us when it comes to COVID protocols. I’ve read a lot of articles about the transmissibility of this virus. I’ve also spoken to a lot of very learned health professionals about omicron. The experts are taking a different approach to gatherings than they did just last week. Clearly, they’re learning as the pandemic evolves. While many folks out there are still wearing cloth masks, even on airplanes, we’re now being told to wear KN95 or N95 masks in crowded places. Many of us are attempting to get tested and running into tremendous obstacles. While we might get our hands on an at-home rapid COVID test, we need to understand that these tests might not give us an accurate result. Airline travel in the era of omicron is not as safe as we might have been led to believe it wasFor those of us who received our booster shot more than 10 weeks ago, reports now indicate that we have lost a significant amount of protectionAnd just yesterday, in a move that contradicts messages coming from leaders in Florida, the CDC is discouraging even vaccinated passengers from traveling on cruises.
I believe that many of our nation’s medical leaders and other governmental officials are trying their best to guide us and keep us safe. Things have been far from perfect and as COVID protocols change, the information we receive can be overwhelming and confusing.  This can make us frustrated and quick to point fingers at the experts. I listen as these experts share what they can and often admit that they just don’t have all the answers yet. Despite what our tradition teaches us, we don’t like to hear this. We don’t like that omicron is messing with the ground rules. We want clear guidelines so we can go about our lives. But, right now, we don’t have all the answers. So, life is messy, uncomfortable and, at times, scary. If we can admit that there is still a lot that is unknown when it comes to this pandemic, our tradition says, we’ll come closer to the truth. In doing so, we’ll realize that the experts are working hard to keep us informed. At the same time, we’ll begin to appreciate that we must take responsibility for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. There are many truths about COVID that are well established – ways to keep us safe and healthy. There are many experts, organizations and governmental agencies that are constantly updating us with new information. We have an obligation to listen and learn from them. We might disagree at times with what we hear coming from those who are charged with keeping us safe. If this happens, we owe it to ourselves to check with our own doctors and play an active role in finding the truth and combating this pandemic. As things continue to evolve, it’s imperative that we stay up to date, pay attention to the consensus in the scientific community and don’t assume that an article you read, a politician you hear or a self-proclaimed expert your stumble upon holds all the answers. Doing so will push us away from the truth.
Here at Ramat Shalom, we continue to listen, learn and adapt. We met with members of our medical committee yesterday and have made some important changes to our COVID protocols which are included in this email. Please stay informed, stay safe and know that we are here to help as we all continue to move forward, welcoming 2022 as safely as we can during these trying times.
From quarantine, the Jacobs wish you a happy and healthy 2022!!!

1 Comment

  1. Susan Zelinka Reply

    oy vey!!!!!! Happy New Year! Here’s to a better understanding of everything…..!

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