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Asian Americans donate PPEs, soup kitchen seeks support, university collects religious responses
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Coronavirus 2020Daily Coronavirus Update

Asian Americans donate PPEs, soup kitchen seeks support, university collects religious responses

Virtual memorial plaques were projected onto the gates of Birkenau, the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Poland, on April 20, 2020. The plaques were uploaded by people across the world to March of the Living's online platform. (March of the Living-Marcin Kozlowski)
Virtual memorial plaques were projected onto the gates of Birkenau, the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Poland, on April 20, 2020. The plaques were uploaded by people across the world to March of the Living's online platform. (March of the Living-Marcin Kozlowski)

Miami University’s comparative religion department is compiling and analyzing the breadth and diversity of religious responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic.Preaching Goes Viral” is a database of sermons, policy statements, prayers, religious guidance and commentary related to the global health crisis. It will be made accessible to students, the media, scholars, religious groups and members of the public.

“Just as we are seeing a wide variance in the symptomatic effects of Covid-19, we are also observing a growing diversity in religious responses to it. This is an important time to practice and promote an empathic, non-judgmental approach to religious differences,” said Hillel Gray, initiative founder. Instructions for submission are available here.

The Masbia network of kosher soup kitchens in New York City has begun a major fundraising drive to offset expenses that have greatly increased during the current coronavirus crisis. “While demand was accelerating since the outbreak and unprecedented bread lines were forming daily, the hunger wave is about to hit its biggest curve,” Masbia announced.  “People’s pantries and refrigerators at home are running empty, widespread hunger is skyrocketing”

According to the organization, about 50 per cent of the people joining its bread lines in the last month were first-time clients, “up from what’s usually about 5 percent.”

Masbia has added hours of distribution; all sites will be open Sunday through Thursday, 2-7 p.m. for both soup kitchen and food pantry operations. People can now come and get seven days’ worth of grocery food for the entire family, or seven cooked dinners, or both.

Information on Masbia operations can be found at masbia.org/covid19 or masbia.org/foodemergency.

The Jewish community’s expression of solidarity with Chinese Americans during the coronavirus pandemic has yielded an unexpected return: a bounty of personal protective equipment for Jewish organizations.

David Bernstein, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which initiated a solidarity letter in February, said Chinese-American groups have sent thousands of much-needed items to Jewish social service agencies in the Washington, D.C., Boston and New York areas, JTA reports. “They have many more connections in China than we do and they have ways of procuring PPE that many Jewish organizations do not and can help on an ongoing basis,” Bernstein said.

Among the contributions: United Chinese Americans contributed 6,000 surgical masks to the D.C.-area Jewish Social Services Agency; the Committee of 100 and a Chinese-American leadership group donated 1,200 isolation gowns to the Jewish Family and Children’s Service in the Boston area; and the Bank of China-USA donated 10,000 surgical masks to Jewish senior homes in the New York area.

On Feb. 21, some 74 Jewish groups signed a letter of solidarity at a time when anti-Asian attacks were spiking because the coronavirus had originated in Wuhan, a city in China.

Israel

The total of people who have died of coronavirus in Israel rose to 181 on Tuesday, with 13,883 diagnosed with the disease.

England’s Daily Mail newspaper reports that Israel has launched a network of new “contactless” roadside COVID-19 testing booths that involve no contact between nurse and patient. “The country has offered to share the design, which is relatively cheap and easy to produce, with other countries as part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.”

The booths, produced by healthcare companies together with civilian and military partners, provide an entirely sealed, sterile environment for the medic, and can be quickly disinfected between patients. Tests are carried out using two rubber gloves that are attached to the outer wall with airtight seals. Results are processed in a matter of hours and reported directly via the patient’s electronic health record.

Deaths

Isaiah Kuperstein, a child of Holocaust survivors who served as founding director of the Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh, and later as the first director of education at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, died of Covid-19 on April 4. He was 70.

Born in Israel, he emigrated to the United States with his family and earned degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University. Mr. Kuperstein lived just outside of Indianapolis, where for decades he owned Double 8 Foods, a chain of grocery stores serving inner city neighborhoods.

Alby Kass, one of the founders of the Russian River Jewish Community in northern California, died on March 31 of complications from Covid-19. He was 89.

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Mr. Kass contracted a coronavirus infection at Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home in Hayward where at least 66 patients and employees have been infected by the coronavirus, and 10 have reportedly died. He was at the facility recuperating from a broken hip.

He was born in the Bronx to an immigrant family, Yiddish his first language. Kass was a Yiddish singer with a strong baritone voice, a member of the Jubilee Klezmer Ensemble and one of the founders of the Russian River Jazz Festival, according to Sonoma West Times and News.

Yom HaShoah

A virtual March of the Living ceremony for Yom HaShoah will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. Its “NeverMeansNever” virtual project will give some 10,000 people around the world the opportunity to have memorial plaques of loved ones projected on the entrance gate to the Birkenau death camp this week as part of Yom HaShoah commemorations. The project allows participants to compose a personal message and place it on the virtual plaque along the train tracks in Birkenau.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin was the first to lay a virtual plaque. The plaques were also projected onto the wall of Israel’s National Theater – Habima last evening.

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel and youngest survivor of Bergen-Belsen, will take part in an Orthodox Union Yom HaShoah program on Tuesday at 11:50 a.m.

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) will host a national, virtual Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony on Tuesday at 1 p.m. The event is part of FIDF’s temporary digital alternative to community events and galas across the United States.

The Claims Conference in partnership with three partners has recorded two webinars with Holocaust survivors to be viewed by students whether via social media or online.  The survivors include Eva Schloss, Auschwitz survivor and Otto Frank’s step-daughter; and Warsaw Ghetto survivor Aviva Bloomberg.  Experts who participate include, Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; film director/producer Roberta Grossman; movie executive producer Nancy Spielberg; and author Michael Berenbaum.

Israei pianist Guy Mintus will perform two piano compositions – one by a Holocaust victim, and one that Leonard Bernstein conducted at DP camps in 1948 — in a livestreamed Yom HaShoah concert on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Songwriter Sarah Spitzer Gargano, whose family are longtime members of Central Synagogue in Manhattan, has written a song inspired by her grandmother Erica Spitzer’s experience fleeing Vienna at age 9 in 1938, leaving most of her family behind. “Murdered Angels,” which includes excerpts of her grandmother’s voice from her Shoah Foundation testimony, can be heard on Spotify and SoundCloud.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage will sponsor several livestreamed events this week. The schedule:

Tuesday, 11 a.m., Holocaust Remembrance Day Online Class for Students.

Wednesday, 2 p.m., Beyond Social Distancing: Understanding Discrimination During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Wednesday, April 22-June 3, Members Learn: Understanding Auschwitz and Its Contexts with Robert Jan van Pelt.

The American Jewish Committee has launched an online “Advocacy Anywhere” program, which features conversations with prominent experts on a wide range of topics of concern to the Jewish community.

The schedule:

Tuesday, 1 p.m., “Intergenerational Yom HaShoah Commemoration: Together We Bear Witness.”

Thursday, 1 p.m.,  “India and the Coronavirus: A Conversation with H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Indian Ambassador to the United States.

Streaming

The Jewish Federations of North America will hold a webinar briefing on “Jewish Advocacy During the COVID-19 Pandemic” Tuesday at 2 p.m. The event, which will discuss Congress’ response to the current crisis, will feature senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs will sponsor a webinar on Building Bridges: Israeli and Palestinian Healthcare Cooperation on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Participants will be Kenneth Bob, chair of Project Rozana USA; Dr. Maurit Be’eri, Director General of ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem, and Dr. Akram Abdulrahman, chief executive of Green Land Society for Health Development, a Hebron-based non-profit.

Hadassah will offer a webinar on its hospital’s coronavirus research on Wednesday at 10 a.m. It will feature Eyal Mishani, director of the Research & Development Division of Hadassah Medical Organization.

UJA-Federation of New York has compiled a guide to help the Jewish community find advice, resources and volunteer opportunities for learning during the virus outbreak. UJA and the Jewish Board also have listings of volunteer opportunities.

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