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Trump Ignored Obama’s Pandemic Manual

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President Trump said “the cupboards were bare” of PPE and ventilators when he took office, but they were bare three years into his administration. When asked about this, he blamed Russian Gate, Ukraine Gate and the impeachment, which is hogwash since there were adequate government resources available to address the need for medical supplies. Ronald Klain, an Obama administration official who addressed potential pandemic outbreaks, said Obama’s administration provided the Trump administration with a 69-page pandemic manual called the “Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents.”

This document was ignored by Trump’s administration. Additionally, Trump abolished the office for pandemic preparedness in 2018 and cut a global pandemic monitoring system by 75%. Obama’s pandemic manual references the need for the federal government to procure PPE, detect the outbreak, acquire funding and invoke the Defense Production Act at the earliest indication of a pandemic in the world. It calls for the appointment of a single knowledgeable federal person to lead the response effort which is not an unqualified president or vice president. Trump said he could not have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Obama administration told Trump and his aides to prepare for a potential pandemic. Donald Moskowitz Londonderry NH

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12 | July 2020


A Jewish Approach to Exercise and Body Image BY RABBI JACOB RUPP


cross the Jewish spectrum, especially in America, physical fitness and Jews are not two things that are naturally

aligned. That being said, not only is exercise and physical fitness kosher, it is a mitzvah. The Talmud relates a famous episode in which Rabbi Hillel told his students he was going to perform a mitzvah and then went to the bathhouse to cleanse himself. When his students asked him if bathing himself was a mitzvah he said, “of course!” As a way of analogy, he explained that if a king would build a statue in the public square, someone would be appointed to keep it clean. We, who are built in G-d’s image, have a responsibility to keep ourselves clean and healthy. Maimonides gives us tips for proper exercise. There is a rabbinic ruling you can allow yourself to suffer in the short term for the long-term benefit of health and the self-esteem boost related to looking good. So why is it that we don’t see the clear connection between Judaism and exercise?  One of the most compelling pieces of Judaism that spoke to me as a secular Jew looking to explore my roots in college was the teaching of R’ Noach Weinberg who speaks about “Toras Chaim”–that the Torah is the ultimate guidebook for life. The G-dly authored document seeks to bring out our greatness and leads us to have the most meaningful experience possible.  Since I start with a premise that the Torah is never antiquated, but rather something to optimize our lives both in this world and the next. I feel distressed when I see the modern Jewish world not using the tools of the modern world to reach peak performance. As innovative ideas and tools become available to us, I feel there is an imperative for those

who are rooted in Judaism to figure out how to deploy and use those tools to help apply Judaism in the newest medium. Rambam was seminal in using Aristotelian philosophic structures and arguments to present Judaism to the Jews of his day. When many Jews were losing their connection to Torah because of the assault by highbrow German intellectuals in the 1800’s, it took someone like R’ Hirsch to speak the language of his generation to show that Torah could be equally intellectual and scholarly. Fast forward to today. Health and wellness have reentered the societal picture in a profound way. It’s a response to many things. It is because our modern working lifestyle doesn’t promote exercise, but instead sitting and staring at a computer screen. The food we eat is highly processed. Thank G-d our abundance of material wealth has led to us consuming a ton more food than ever before. And as such, in America at least, well over 60% of the population is overweight.  As someone who’s had to struggle with my weight and eating decisions throughout my life, I am very aware of how being overweight and unhealthy affects not only your health long term (I used to get chest pains), but affects your self-esteem. Despite arguments to the contrary, I really believe that most people who are overweight don’t want to be. People want to look and feel good. On top of it, and this is the crucial point, there is now SO much evidence that shows regular exercise is good for us both physically and mentally. So, here’s where I get on a soapbox and get controversial. I’ve seen men my age (I’m in my mid-thirties) plagued by a sense that they aren’t enough. Sure, they are good husbands. Yes, most have good jobs. They support their families. But they don’t feel good. 

They lack a powerful sense of self-esteem and confidence. It carries over to their enthusiasm and how they show up in life. The easiest way to start to take control of your life (and it is difficult) is to start to exercise and take responsibility for the food you put in your mouth. Exercise is good–emotionally, mentally, and physically. When you see progress in your body or your physical ability, it leads to self-esteem. IT’S TANGIBLE. In a lot of other areas of life, it’s hard to see tangible results. We don’t get graded as parents. For many of us, we don’t see a daily increase in our professional lives. Our marriages don’t have benchmarks. Spiritually we also don’t see our progress because it’s a long game. It IS IMPORTANT to have goals in these areas but setting and achieving goals in one area sets in motion the others. The way to start is to open up and admit that it’s ok to exercise hard and to try to build a physical body of which you are proud–just like you are building a soul, a family and a Jewish life of which you should take pride. And that takes hard work, focus, COACHING, accountability and dedication. But the payoff is amazing. You see results, and as such, build the self-esteem to put in real hard work in other areas of your life. So yes, I do work out, I’m not ashamed of it and I think others should do it too. Get up earlier, or go to bed later, but make it a priority. I do feel like it’s a Jewish obligation, because the macro concept here is that we want to make our world a better place and getting ourselves in the best position to do that is imperative. The growth mindset, that we can get better, trumps the fixed mindset, that this is the way it is. A Tammuz /Av 5780 29

Profile for San Diego Jewish Journal

July 2020  

July 2020  

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