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NYC’s backlog for free burials, Netanyahu faces third quarantine, fund feeds frontline workers
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Coronavirus 2020Daily Coronavirus Update

NYC’s backlog for free burials, Netanyahu faces third quarantine, fund feeds frontline workers

Rabbi Shmuel Plafker, a chaplain for New York's Hebrew Free Burial Association, inspects fresh graves for the indigent at Staten Island's Mount Richmond Cemetery. The society has becme overwhelmed with Covid-19 victims. (Jewish Week)
Rabbi Shmuel Plafker, a chaplain for New York's Hebrew Free Burial Association, inspects fresh graves for the indigent at Staten Island's Mount Richmond Cemetery. The society has becme overwhelmed with Covid-19 victims. (Jewish Week)

As the Covid-19 crisis has dragged on through the spring, New York’s Hebrew Free Burial Association has become overwhelmed with bodies of indigent Jews who need burial, The Jewish Week reports.

Staten Island’s Mount Richmond Cemetery is owned by the association, which was founded in 1888. It handles all burials of Jews who die without funds for funeral expenses. Since 2010, it has averaged about 360 burials annually. But so far this year the number is nearly 300 “and the year is not even half finished,” according to Amy Koplow, the organization’s executive director.

“It’s been crazy,” said Rabbi Shmuel Plafker, the cemetery’s chaplain for more than 45 years. Because of the increasing number of coronavirus victims, Koplow said they ran out of room and bought a free-standing refrigerator to store an additional four bodies.

A Dutch chief rabbi joined the chorus of criticism aimed at Amsterdam’s mayor, who allowed thousands to gather at a protest over the police killing of George Floyd without enforcing social distancing protocols.

Writing in a column on Jonet.nl, Binyomin Jacobs argued that social distancing rules are not being enforced fairly — since the country’s Holocaust commemoration events were not held as normal on May 4 and Dutch houses of worship are still closed, JTA reports.

Furthermore, Binyomin Jacobs cited the Jewish faith’s principle of preserving life, saying that Mayor Femke Halsema ignored that in allowing the rally to happen during a time when catching the coronavirus is still a risk.

“Jewish law is clear: When lives are threatened, no risk is taken,” Jacobs wrote on Jonet.nl. “The demonstration on Dam Square should never have been allowed.”

Halsema, who belongs to the far-left Green Left party, is facing a no-confidence vote at city hall over the rally. She said she expected far fewer protesters to show up.

An employee in the Prime Minister’s Office has tested positive for COVID-19, which could send Benjamin Netanyahu into self-quarantine for the third time since the start of the global pandemic.

The employee on the prime minister’s technical staff was in the same room as Netanyahu on Saturday, Israel’s Channel 13 reported Monday. He also may have come into contact with Finance Minister Israel Katz and Education Minister Yoav Gallant. All three men participated in a nationally televised address and news conference Saturday evening on dealing with the coronavirus crisis that the employee helped set up.

A Manhattan attorney has used her legal and administrative background to raise money for meals for doctors and nurses, the frontline healthcare workers in intensive care units and emergency rooms, The Jewish Week reports.

Stacy Rotner and a friend, Dr. David Kessler, a pediatric emergency room physician at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center who was recruited to deal with Covid-19 patients, created GratiFoodNYC.org (“Sending Gratitude through Food”), a grassroots initiative.

Rotner thought she would raise, through Facebook, $6,000 to provide 70 meals at three local hospitals. Instead, she raised $65,000 for 6,000 meals at a dozen medical centers, purchasing meals from several local restaurants and caterers.

Recommended reading: “Shul leader was losing her faith – but online observance has restored it,” Aimi Sugarman writes in London’s Jewish Chronicle. The lay leader of a synagogue in England says online services have reinforced her waning faith in Judaism, thanks to “inspiring services, new tunes, interesting talks, Torah lessons, religious cooking and supportive groups.”

Recommended reading: “These 10 Yiddish Words Will Get You Through Quarantine,” by Ellen Scolnic and Joyce Eisenberg. Kveller’s list includes tsedrayte, or all mixed up, confused, as in “we don’t know what day of the week it is.”

Streaming

Kulanu, a Jewish organization that “seeks to support isolated, emerging, and returning Jewish communities around the world,” will hold a webinar on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on Reform Conversions and Beyond: Growing a Jewish Community in Guatemala. The event will feature Rebecca Orantes, a community leader of the Jewish community of Adat Israel Judaismo Reformista in Guatemala City. To sign up: kualnu.org/rsvp

Wilderness Torah will sponsor a webinar with Tirzah Firestone about Wounds into Wisdom: Healing Our Families and Changing the World on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Register here.

Yad Sarah will sponsor a webinar on When Staying Home Is Not Staying Safe: The Effects of Quarantine on Victims of Domestic Violence on Wednesday at 1 p.m. It will feature a conversation with Dr. Shlomit Lehman, director of Yad Sarah’s Family Centers, and Dr. Shana Frydman, executive director of the Shalom Task Force, moderated by Dr. Pamela Wolf, Friends of Yad Sarah Board Member and retired epidemiologist with an emphasis on women’s health.

ICONS, a series of conversations between women in the U.S. and Israel, will sponsor an online conversation about women dealing with the coronavirus crisis on Wednesday at noon. Participants will be Elah Alkalay, chair of IBI Mutual Funds; Allison Fine, candidate for Congress; and Wendy Feldman Block, who has advised real estate tenants for more than 30 years.

Educator Erica Brown will discuss The People and the Book: Why Jewish Texts Matter Today in a lunch and learn program Wednesday at noon sponsored by Washington’s Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership. The event, geared for Jewish communal professionals, will investigate “the act and love of reading, the nature of interpretation and why Judaism places so much emphasis on living wisdom.” Meeting ID: 795 385 0173.

The Jewish Wisdom & Wellness organization will sponsor a webinar on Anxiety, Depression, Isolation: Psycho-Social Risks and Opportunities of Protective Sheltering on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The event will feature Dr. Betsy Stone, adjunct lecturer at Hebrew Union College.

Journalist Sarah Tuttle-Singer will discuss life in Israel before and during the pandemic in a webinar on June 7 at 10 a.m. The event is sponsored by the Westchester Jewish Center.

Joan Poulin, daughter of a German-born Holocaust survivor, will discuss her father’s wartime experiences Thursday at 5 p.m. in an online program sponsored by the Memory Keepers initiative of the White Plains-based Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center. She discuss how she used 175 family letters from her father’s mother and brother to piece together her father’s story of survival. For Zoom information: mjasper@hhrecny.org

The American Jewish Committee’s Advocacy Anywhere program will offer an online conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of the Atlantic, on Thursday at noon. He will discuss Journalism and Politics in the Age of COVID-19.with Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of AJC Europe.

Hazon and the Isabella Freedman retreat center will sponsor a Virtual Retreat on Sunday at 10 a.m., featuring four hours of programming and classes on sustainability and the environment.

Jewish National Fund will hold an online conversation on Wednesday at 2 p.m. with Peter Kurz, general manager of Israel’s Olympic baseball team, and two players from the team.

The Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., will hold its spring fundraising event, a virtual comedy benefit, on Thursday at 8 p.m. The event will feature Israeli comedian Joel Chasnoff. For information: sbashsoudry@goldaochacademy.org.

Detroit’s Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity will sponsor an online dialogue about Race in America Wednesday at noon on Facebook Live. Participants will be the Coalition’s co-chair,

Hebrew Union College will sponsor a webinar on Anxiety, Depression, Isolation: Psycho-Social Risks and Opportunities of Protective Sheltering on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Aish.com is offering a 14-part video series on “Coming Out of Coronavirus.”

Join The Jewish Week and UJA-Federation for a powerful virtual evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Thursday, June 4, 6:00 PM – 8:00 p.m. Friedman and Andrew Silow-Carroll, The Jewish Week’s editor in chief, will discuss and take questions on the domestic and global ramifications of the coronavirus crisis and other international affairs challenges. The event is free, but you must register here.

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