By Ed Weintrob
Thirteen rabbis from the Five Towns and Far Rockaway each say a few words meant to encourage members of their synagogues and the entire community to get vaccinated now. While each rabbi speaks individually, they are really speaking with one voice.
That’s the concept of a brief video distributed through social media on Aug. 30 in which each rabbi continues their colleague’s thought.
The 2-3/4 minute video opens with Rabbi Eytan Feiner of Congregation Knesseth Israel (The White Shul) in Far Rockaway. “My dear and beloved chevrah [society]. Ribono shel Olam has given us a gift, a very precious gift. It’s called the Covid-19 vaccines.
It seamlessly continues with Rabbi Uri Orlian of Congregation Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence: “Vaccines have allowed us to reopen.”
Rabbi Elly Krimsky of the Lido Beach Synagogue: “And to enjoy simchas [parties] safely again.”
Rabbi Elie Weinstock of the Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach: “With all of the data we clearly see just how safe and effective these vaccines are. For all populations.”
Rabbi Shalom Axelrod of the Young Israel of Woodmere: “Including the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and pregnant and nursing women.”
Rabbi Ya'akov Trump of the Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst: “Due to so many people being vaccinated, the number of hospitalizations and deaths decreased greatly since the vaccines were released.”
Rabbi Ephraim Polakoff of Bais Tefilah of Woodmere: “But the numbers of Covid-19 cases are spiking again. And in New York almost all deaths due to Covid-19 are in unvaccinated individuals.”
Rabbi Feiner: “Unvaccinated people die.” Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt: “Die.” Rabbi Trump: “They die.”
Rabbi Yaakov Bender of Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway: “You haven’t lived through enough? … We in the community have to realize that if 99-percent of doctors say take the shot, we take the shot. What’s the shayla [question] over here? Are we playing games?”
Rabbi Zvi Ralbag of Congregation. BaisEphraim Yitzchok: “The Torah says … when it pertains to matters of heath, you have to follow the doctors.”
Rabbi. Feiner: “So let’s all feel comfortable yet again, davening in shul, going back to yeshivas…”
The video continues—
Rabbi Yaakov Feitman: “When we take the vaccine we’re helping everybody. And that’s a double mitzvah.”
Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Frankel: “There is unfortunately a lot of misinformation circulating.”
Rabbi Dr. Glatt: “But it’s important to know the truth.”
Rabbi Orlian: “After over a year of research, clinical trials, and the actual vaccines in use.”
Rabbi Axelrod: “We see no evidence of any kind of negative outcomes for fertility and no evidence of increased risk to women of child-bearing age.
Rabbi Krimsky: “We are a cohesive community.” Rabbi Feiner: And the very best way to insure our health and safety is with one united harmonious voice.” Rabbi Axelrod: “One voice.” Rabbi Elie Weinstock: “One voice.” Rabbi Orlian: “One voice.”
One of the rabbis represented — Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of the Department of Medicine and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau
— says, “We want to celebrate the yom tovim [the holidays] responsibly. … Why are you still waiting? Please. Get vaccinated. Today.” Glatt is also on the rabbinic team at Congregation Anshei Chesed and the Young Israel of Woodmere.
Rabbi Bender sounds annoyed, impatient. “If 99 percent of doctors say take the shot, we take the shot. What’s the shayla over here? Are we playing games?!”
The video concludes with this—
Rabbi Orlian: “Get vaccinated now.” Rabbi Ephraim Polakoff: “Get vaccinated now”.
Rabbi Axelrod: “Get vaccinated now …” Rabbi Feltman: “… As soon as we can.”
Rabbi Yaakov Bender: “Get vaccinated. Get it done. That’s what the doctors and the rabanim want us to do. Let’s go.” Rabbi Ya’akov Trump: “Be smart, be responsible. Get vaccinated.”
The video was sponsored by Achiezer, Hatzalah of the Rockaways and Nassau County, JCCRP, the Jewish Orthodox Women's Medical Association, the Orthodox Union, and Bikur Cholim of Far Rockaway and Five Towns. Michael Fragin and Rabbi Simon Taylor were credited as executive producers.