May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I am writing in support of Nina Glick’s article titled “The World Is Topsy Turvy” (August 6, 2020). I too am worried and concerned about how many in the frum community have abandoned masking and social distancing.

About a week ago I had to go to a satellite office of Hackensack University Medical Center for a somewhat invasive and uncomfortable medical test. I was concerned about going, virus safety-wise, but after days of ruminating knew I just had to go. On the morning of the test, I made a deal with myself that if I felt unsafe in any way I would just turn around and go home. I even put one of my favorite books in my bag as a kind of adult pacifier to keep me calm. What I experienced at the medical center was inspiring to say the least. Comfy, black leather chairs were placed in the spacious waiting room with six feet of space all around them. No more than five people were in the waiting room at a time. Everyone was properly masked. Plexiglass was installed around every computer operator. I was even approached by a nurse and asked to put a surgical mask on top of my cotton one. The medical technician who did my test was double masked and wore a face shield. She disinfected the testing room before I entered and as I gathered up my things to leave. I thanked her profusely as I left. I was in a vulnerable position, dependent on others who shiningly came through for me. What incredible thought went into that planning. It was all taken seriously and done with respect.

I would like to contrast that experience to the ones I have been witnessing in my own community. Watching an unmasked frum woman barge into our quite small keilim mikvah and proceed to tovel right next to a masked gentleman. Walking into a local frum clothing store and seeing the owner behind the register, mask around her chin and not one of the customers masked up, all waiting to pay in a tight mush of a line. Walking into a local frum grocery store and seeing workers sans masks altogether. Being heckled by a neighbor asking my husband and I where we are going wearing masks. Why are people having such a difficult time with this? We all sign a so-called social contract when we live together in a society that we will follow basic rules for the benefit of all. Do all of these people feel that they are simply above the rules?

I work during the school year as a kindergarten teacher. The job is not just academic by any means. There are a myriad of tiny physical acts that are done everyday to help my vulnerable charges. Retying their shoes, wiping their noses, guiding them through the seemingly impossible act of navigating their own lunch boxes. A plethora of chesed opportunities sent daily my way. These are not dramatic acts but quiet ones to help those who are depending on me. I would argue that putting on my mask everyday and social distancing, although seemingly pedestrian, would fall into that same category of quiet chesed being done for the more vulnerable among us.

So thank you, Mrs. Glick, for bringing up such salient and heartbreaking points. I write this in solidarity with you.

Tziporah Penn
Passaic
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