Yeshiva World News

Etihad Makes 1st Known Commercial Flight Between UAE, Israel

An unmarked Etihad Airways cargo plane flew aid to help the Palestinians fight the coronavirus pandemic from the capital of the United Arab Emirates into Israel on Tuesday, marking the first known direct commercial flight between the two nations. The UAE, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the Arabian Peninsula, has no diplomatic ties to Israel, like all Arab nations except Egypt and Jordan. Yet the flight marked a moment of cooperation between Israel and the UAE after years of rumored back-channel discussions between them over the mutual enmity of Iran and other issues. Etihad, the state-owned, long-haul carrier based in Abu Dhabi, confirmed it sent a flight Tuesday to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. “Etihad Airways operated a dedicated humanitarian cargo flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv … to provide medical supplies to the Palestinians,” the airline told The Associated Press. “The flight had no passengers on board.” In the past, private and diplomatic planes often had to travel to a third country before heading onto Israel. Emirati government officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency later issued a statement saying it delivered 14 tons of protective gear, medical items and ventilators “to curb the spread of (the) COVID-19 pandemic and its impact in the occupied Palestinian territory.” It did not acknowledge the flight nor its significance. The cargo flight landed at Ben Gurion on Tuesday night, with ground crews pulling out pallets of cargo bearing both the Emirati and Palestinian flags. It will go toward U.N. efforts to fight the outbreak. Neither the Gaza Strip nor the West Bank have their own airports, meaning most cargo bound for Palestinian territory must enter through Israel. That likely required an airlift of the material from the UAE, which hosts humanitarian stockpiles for the United Nations. The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms founded in 1971, had no significant history with Jews unlike other Persian Gulf nations. While not acknowledging Israel diplomatically, Emirati officials have allowed Israeli officials to visit and the Israeli national anthem was played after an athlete won gold in an Abu Dhabi judo tournament. Israel also has a small mission representing its interests at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi. Next year, Israel will take part in its delayed Expo 2020, the world’s fair being hosted by Dubai. A secret synagogue also draws practicing Jews in Dubai. The UAE also has announced plans to build the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, which will house a mosque, a church and a synagogue. Israelis traveling with Western passports routinely enter the UAE without a problem, though one still can’t make a phone call between the two countries. Oman, which has ties with Iran, hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a surprise visit in 2018 that served to remind Washington of its unique ability to be a conduit for talks. Saudi Arabia and the UAE also have allegedly used Israeli spyware to go after government critics. But such ties remain highly contentious among the Arab public, particularly as the Palestinians remain without a state of their own despite decades of talks. The UAE as recently as May criticized Netanyahu’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and warned of “dangerous repercussions.” Tensions also rose […]

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Hagaon Rav Shalom Ber Sorotzkin Shlita: “On The Day The Yeshiva Reopened, The Pandemic Stopped”

  Ateres Shlomo is now the first yeshiva allowed by the Health Ministry to return to full functionality, following two weeks of learning in “capsules”, small groups of students in outdoor areas. During his drasha, Rav Sorotzkin emotionally declared the unforgettable words, “On the day that our yeshiva reopened, the pandemic stopped!” Ateres Shlomo’s branch in Rishon L’Tzion was the first yeshiva to institute the “capsule” system, conforming to all social distancing guidelines. Two weeks later, on Tuesday, May 19, they were allowed by the authorities to learn in the bais medrash, once it had been confirmed that none of the bochurim were COVID-19 positive. Rav Sorotzkin expressed gratitude to Hashem for the merit of having Ateres Shlomo chosen as the first yeshiva allowed to return to its bais medrash, describing this as a great Heavenly kindness and urging every bochur to join him in thanking Hashem. He added movingly, “We have experienced two amazing weeks of learning with diligence and devotion; two weeks of drawing close to Hashem. During these two weeks, our lives were completely dedicated to the Ribono Shel Olam. “I would like to note an amazing thing about those two weeks. Anyone who has paid close attention can see that from the time the yeshiva reopened, the pandemic stopped. Look at the great change that has occurred! It all began on the day we opened. This is a clear symbol of the power Torah has to protect and save us.”

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Trump Tells Senate GOP To ‘Be Tough’ On Democrats

President Donald Trump implored Senate Republicans to “be tough” on Democrats heading into the fall election, touting his own poll numbers against rival Joe Biden during a free-wheeling private lunch on Capitol Hill. With top White House advisers in tow, Trump attended what was perhaps one of the largest social gatherings still happening in locked-down Washington as officials consider next steps in the coronavirus response. “We had a great meeting — all of the Republican senators were there,” Trump told reporters. The private luncheon at the nearly closed U.S. Capitol complex was billed as an opportunity for Trump to thank senators for their work in fighting the virus outbreak and shoring up the economy, officials said. But as senators from the 53-seat GOP majority convened behind closed doors, the discussion swiftly turned to politics and Trump’s “enthusiasm” for the campaign against Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee, senators said. “He admonished all of us to be tough, fight back,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters afterward. Democrats are eager to flip control of the Senate from Republicans as voters assess Trump’s handling of the pandemic crisis. Cornyn said the president explained to the senators, “It’s going to be a pitched battle.” The president’s visits are often free-flowing conversations and Republicans said various topics were discussed. But the hour-long session did not change the GOP position to hold off, until June, on a new round of virus aid for states and struggling Americans. “We need to assess what we’ve already done, take a look at what worked and what didn’t,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., afterward. “We’ll discuss the way forward in the next couple of weeks.” The U.S. Capitol building remains largely closed with the House away due to health risks, but the Senate is in session and the GOP majority still hashes out policy behind closed doors over lunch on Tuesdays. With new social distancing restrictions, the Senate gathering was held in a bigger room across the street from the Capitol rather than the regular one steps from the Senate chamber. Many senators were masked and seating was limited to three to a table. It was among the few known gatherings still happening in the nation’s capital, which remains under stay-home orders through June 8 as the virus outbreak tallies new cases and fatalities. One GOP senator and dozens of Capitol Hill workers and staff have tested positive for the virus. Senate Democrats skip in-person meetings and convene weekly by conference call. Trump set off alarms when he disclosed this week that he is taking a drug, hydroxycholorquine, despite grave warnings from health officials and the U.S. government that the anti-malaria drug is unproven against COVID-19, and carries severe health risks, including death. He did not discuss his decision to take the drug during the private lunch, senators said. Tuesday brought a full day of administration appearances on Capitol Hill. Earlier, Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin huddled with McConnell and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy for a previously scheduled meeting. They discussed the COVID-19 response and the economy, said a person unauthorized to describe the meeting and granted anonymity. But it did not appear to change Republicans’ outlook that more funds are needed for the pandemic response. “I don’t see the need right now,” […]

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BREAKING: Camp In Woodbourne Reportedly Receives Permit To Open This Summer

As the Jewish community awaits with anticipation on a decision if Upstate NY summer camps will be permitted to open this coming summer, at least one camp has reportedly received the green light. Camp Oraysa, located on Todd Road in Woodbourne, NY, sent an email to the parent body of the camp stating that they have been given a permit from the Health Department. YWN was unable to confirm if any other camps received a permit as well. The letter sent to the parents is attached below: STAY UPDATED WITH BREAKING UPDATES FROM YWN VIA WHATSAPP – SIGN UP NOW Just click on this link, and you will be placed into a group. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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My ‘Decision To Make’: Trump Defends Criticized Use Of Drug

President Donald Trump emphatically defended himself Tuesday against criticism from medical experts that his announced use of a malaria drug against the coronavirus could spark wide misuse by Americans of the unproven treatment with potentially fatal side effects. Trump’s revelation a day earlier that he was taking hydroxychloroquine caught many in his administration by surprise and set off an urgent effort by officials to justify his action. But their attempt to address the concerns of health professionals was undercut by the president himself. He asserted without evidence that a study of veterans raising alarm about the drug was “false” and an “enemy statement,” even as his own government warned that the drug should be administered for COVID-19 only in a hospital or research setting. “If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape,” Trump said. That was an apparent reference to a study of hundreds of patients treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs in which more of those in a group who were administered hydroxychloroquine died than among those who weren’t. “They were very old. Almost dead,” Trump said. “It was a Trump enemy statement.” During a Cabinet meeting, he elicited a defense of his practice from other officials, including VA Secretary David Wilkie who noted that the study in question was not conducted by his agency. But the drug has not been shown to combat the virus in a multitude of other studies as well. Two large observational studies, each involving around 1,400 patients in New York, recently found no COVID benefit from hydroxychloroquine. Two new ones published last week in the medical journal BMJ reached the same conclusion. Trump said he decided to take hydroxychloroquine after two White House staffers tested positive for the disease, but he already had spent months promoting the drug as a potential cure or preventive despite the cautionary advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals. “This is an individual decision to make,” Trump told reporters during a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Republicans. “But it’s had a great reputation.” Many studies are testing hydroxychloroquine for preventing or limiting coronavirus illness but “at this point in time there’s absolutely no evidence that this strategy works,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University in Atlanta. “My concern is, the president has a big bully pulpit … maybe people will think there’s some non-public evidence” that the drug works because Trump has chosen to use it, del Rio said. “It creates this conspiracy theory that something works and they’re not telling me about it yet.” Addressing concerns that Trump’s example could lead people to misuse the drug, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that “tens of millions of people around the world have used this drug for other purposes,” including malaria prophylaxis. She emphasized, “You have to have a prescription. That’s the way it must be done.” The drug is also prescribed for some lupus and arthritis patients. Trump said his doctor did not recommend hydroxychloroquine to him, but that he requested it from the White House physician. That physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said in a statement that, after “numerous discussions” with Trump, “we concluded the potential benefit from treatment […]

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Two Girls Found After Search In Forest Near Monsey

Rockland Chaveirim had launched a search for two missing girls in a wooded area near Monsey, on Tuesday night. Both girls were B”H found a short while later. Sources tell YWN that the girls contacted Chaveirim that they were lost while hiking. They later lost phone communication. They are around 18 years of age, and were lost for at least four hours. At least a dozen specially-trained Chaveirim volunteers were in the forest searching. STAY UPDATED WITH BREAKING UPDATES FROM YWN VIA WHATSAPP – SIGN UP NOW Just click on this link, and you will be placed into a group. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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Toddler In Tel Aviv Diagnosed With COVID-19, Sending 16 Toddlers Into Isolation

A two-year-old who attends daycare in Tel Aviv was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Monday, Yisrael Hayom reported. Instructions were sent to the parents of the 16 other toddlers in the class to place their children into quarantine. The classroom is being thoroughly disinfected in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines. Earlier this week, a second staff member at a Rechovot school was diagnosed with the coronavirus, sending dozens of students and staff members into quarantine, as well as an 8th grader in a Bnei Brak girls’ school. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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States Accused Of Fudging Or Bungling COVID-19 Testing Data

As large parts of the U.S. ease their lockdowns against the coronavirus, public health officials in some states are being accused of bungling infection statistics or even deliberately using a little sleight of hand to make things look better than they are. The result is that politicians, business owners and ordinary Americans who are making decisions about reopenings and other day-to-day matters risk being left with the impression that the virus is under more control than it actually is. In Virginia, Texas and Vermont, for example, officials said they have been combining the results of viral tests, which show an active infection, with antibody tests, which show a past infection. Public health experts say that can make for impressive-looking testing totals but does not give a true picture of how the virus is spreading. In Florida, the data scientist who developed the state’s coronavirus dashboard, Rebekah Jones, said this week that she was fired for refusing to manipulate data “to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” Calls to health officials for comment were not immediately returned Tuesday. In Georgia, one of the earliest states to ease up on lockdowns and assure the public it was safe to go out again, the Department of Public Health published a graph around May 11 that showed new COVID-19 cases declining over time in the most severely affected counties. The daily entries, however, were not arranged in chronological order but in descending order. For example, the May 7 totals came right before April 26, which was followed by May 3. A quick look at the graph made it appear as if the decline was smoother than it really was. The graph was taken down within about a day. Georgia state Rep. Jasmine Clark, a Democrat with a doctorate in microbiology, called the graph a “prime example of malfeasance,” adding: “Science matters, and data manipulation is not only dangerous but leads to distrust in our institutions.” Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb likewise called the department’s presentations “purposely misleading.” Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s office denied there was any attempt to deceive the public. Guidelines from the Trump administration say that before states begin reopening, they should see a 14-day downward trend in infections. However, some states have reopened when infections were still climbing or had plateaued. States have also been instructed to expand testing and contact tracing. The U.S. has recorded 1.5 million confirmed infections and over 90,000 deaths. Vermont and Virginia said they stopped combining the two types of tests in the past few days. Still, health officials in Virginia, where Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has eased up on restrictions, said that combining the numbers caused “no difference in overall trends.” In Texas, where health officials said last week that they were including some antibody results in their testing totals and case counts, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that the numbers were not being commingled. Health officials did not respond to requests for clarification. Georgia’s Department of Public Health also regularly publishes a graph that shows cases over time, except new infections are not listed on the day they came back positive, which is the practice in many other states. Instead, Georgia lists new cases on the day the patient first reported symptoms. That practice can shift the timeline of the outbreak […]

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Owner of Private Jet Offers To Fly Sick Little Boy Home

Readers around the world have been following the story of 4-year-old Menachem Blau, a little boy from Israel who needs to fly to America immediately in order to save his life. Menachem was born with a rare condition which causes cysts to grow on his vocal cords. He has had surgery every few months since his infancy, and has now had over 25 procedures. Recently, Israeli doctors said they are no longer able to help, and that his only hope lies in the hands of American specialists. The Blaus were set to fly to America when COVID-19 took over the world, and American hospitals cancelled procedures for foreigners. The Blaus were left to wait, hoping their little boy would live to see the surgery he needed. In the last week, restrictions have lessened, and the Blaus are now able to visit America. Unfortunately, they still lack the finances necessary to do so.  In a heartwarming turn, the owner of a private jet has offered to fly the Blaus home after the procedure. The family has also been able to raise some money to help them afford some of the expenses of getting their large family to the US, as well as housing and feeding them. They are still unable, however, to afford the flight out of Israel. They need tickets for the parents, as well as 7 children.  As the days pass and the date of the procedure draws nearer, the Blaus are desperately hoping that they will be able to raise enough to get their child to the surgery he needs to live. Donations are being accepted here for a limited time.  CLICK HERE TO HELP

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Health Ministry: “Restaurants, Cafés, Pools & Hotels To Open Next Week”

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein signed an order on Tuesday allowing the reopening of restaurants, cafés, bars, swimming pools, youth groups and hotels next week on May 27. Restaurants, bars and cafés that can fit up to 100 customers will be allowed to open at full capacity and larger venues will be able to operate at 85% capacity. Tables must be spaced 1.5 meters apart. Customers will be required to have their temperatures checked before entering the premises and wear face masks when not eating. At swimming pools, swimmers must be allowed 10 square meters outside the pool and 6 square meters inside the water. Restaurants, cafés and similar establishments have been one of the hardest-hit industries as a result of the coronavirus restrictions Outgoing economy and industry minister Eli Cohen said on Sunday that reopening restaurants will allow tens of thousands of employees to resume employment. Edelstein announced later on Tuesday that event halls will be allowed to reopen on June 14th. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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The Heat is On: No Face Masks, Fires, And Goats & Camels

The newly appointed Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, made a decision to temporarily remove the requirement to wear face masks in public spaces and in classrooms until Friday, March 22, due to the heavy heatwave Israel is experiencing this week. “We need to view coronavirus protection very seriously,” Edelstein stated late Monday night. “But the heatwave could be dangerous in itself. On the recommendations of medical professionals, I have decided to lift the requirement for masks when not in a large gathering.” The ministry added that the exemption from masks is only until the end of the week. Many schools canceled classes due to the combination of the suffocating heat and requirement for the children to wear face masks, which school officials said was not possible to enforce in the heat. According to the Israel Electric Corporation, a new record for electricity use was set on Tuesday afternoon. At 1:55 p.m., Israelis were using 13,809 megawatts of electricity, breaking the previous record for electricity use of 13,568 megawatts, set ten months ago. Large forces of firefighters extinguished a large wildfire that broke out near the central city of Elad on Tuesday morning. It took 17 Fire and Rescue Services crews, eight National and Parks Authority crews, and eight firefighter planes to tame the flames which were whipped up by fierce winds. About 15,000 hectares of land were burned in a nature reserve in the area. השריפה סמוך לאלעד: עם אור ראשון, שמונה מטוסי כיבוי צפויים להצטרף למאמצים לבלימת האש@hadasgrinberg (צילום: דוברות כבאות והצלה פתח תקווה) — כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 19, 2020 》בשריפה פעלו 17 צוותי כיבוי ממחוז מרכז ובסיוע צוותים ממחוז דן.8 מטוסי של טייסת הכיבוי אלעד ו- 8 צוותים של רט"ג. בשריפה נשרפו כ- 15,000 דונם של חורש טבעי ומרבית השטח הינו שמורת טבע. — כבאות והצלה לישראל (@102_IL) May 19, 2020 Overnight Monday, firefighters battled a wildfire in Be’er Sheva and earlier on Monday, firefighters battled wildfires on the outskirts of Jerusalem at Neve Ilan as well as on Route 4. The Jerusalem municipality recruited a number of unique new firefighters this week, over 150 cattle, sheep, goats and camels, which will graze the areas around the city to thin out vegetation, reducing the risk of wildfires, The Jerusalem Post reported. The livestock are needed because they can reach areas that vehicles and equipment can’t. The project is being carried out by the municipality in cooperation with the flocks’ owner from the Umm Lisun neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel Police and the veterinary service. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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COVID-19 Data Sharing With Law Enforcement Sparks Concern

Public health officials in at least two-thirds of U.S. states are sharing the addresses of people who have the coronavirus with first responders. Supporters say the measure is designed to protect those on the front line, but it’s sparked concerns of profiling in minority communities already mistrustful of law enforcement. An Associated Press review of those states found that at least 10 states also share the names of everyone who tests positive. Sharing the information does not violate medical privacy laws, under guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Law enforcement officials say the information helps them take extra precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the coronavirus. But civil liberty and community activists have expressed concerns of potential profiling in African-American and Hispanic communities that already have an uneasy relationship with law enforcement. Some envision the data being forwarded to immigration officials. In Tennessee, the issue has sparked criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers who only became aware of the data sharing earlier this month. “The information could actually have a ‘chilling effect’ that keeps those already distrustful of the government from taking the COVID-19 test and possibly accelerate the spread of the disease,” the Tennessee Black Caucus said in a statement earlier this month. Many members of minority communities are employed in industries that require them to show up to work every day, making them more susceptible to the virus — and most in need of the test. The AP review shows that public health officials in at least 35 states share the addresses of those who have tested positive for the coronavirus — provided by the state or local health departments to emergency dispatch centers that request it. In at least 10 of those states, health agencies also share their names: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee. Wisconsin did so briefly but stopped earlier this month. Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said law enforcement agencies should explain why they are collecting names or addresses and assure minority communities that the information won’t be turned over to the federal government. He noted the Trump administration’s demands that local governments cooperate with immigration authorities as a concern. “We should question why the information needs to be provided to law enforcement, whether there is that danger of misuse,” Saenz said. Law enforcement officials note they have long been entrusted with confidential information — such as social security numbers and criminal history. The COVID-19 information is just a continuation of that trend. According to the national Fraternal Order of Police, more than 100 police officers in the United States have died from the coronavirus. Hundreds more have tested positive, resulting in staffing crunches. “Many agencies before having this information had officers down, and now they’ve been able to keep that to a minimum,” said Maggi Duncan, executive director of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. Critics wonder why first responders don’t just take precautions with everyone, given that so many people with the virus are asymptomatic or present mild symptoms. Wearing personal protective equipment only in those cases of confirmed illness is unlikely to guarantee their protection, they argue. In Ohio, Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order April […]

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Message From Lakewood Pediatricians As COVID-19 Cases Decrease

Dear Parents of our Kehillah, Boruch Hashem there has been a consistent decrease in the number of new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. Our hishtadlus in vigilance with isolation and social distancing has been a great contributing factor for this decrease. However, even as the virus decreases in our community, as long as it is still active in the surrounding communities, social distancing is the only hishtadlus that we can do to prevent it from being reintroduced and chas v’sholom flaring up again in our community. Although until now children have tended to be asymptomatic or to exhibit mild illness due to Covid-19, they can still pass on the virus to others. These individuals include potentially tens of thousands of healthy people in our community who are still susceptible, in addition to those who are at the highest risk of grave illness, including the elderly, immunocompromised and those with pre-existing conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. We do not know how long the virus sheds from an infected individual. We also do not know if everyone is immune post infection. If someone does have immunity post-infection, we do not know how long this immunity lasts. Therefore, even those from different households who have been previously infected should remain distanced from each other. As the weather gets milder and the longer we have been quarantined, it has become harder to maintain social distancing amongst children. We want to encourage you to stay strong and maintain social distancing and good hand hygiene amongst your children. We do encourage children to play outside in a safe environment: • Children should be supervised. • Biking, scooters, and roller blading (with helmets) are healthy activities in which social distance can be maintained. • Local parks are open and family walks are encouraged. • Children can play games together outside, as long as they maintain at least a 6-foot distance between themselves. • Older children and adolescents can socialize outside while maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet. Children should wash their hands before, and more importantly, after they play outside. We know the natural tendency is for children to gravitate to each other, which leads to physical interaction. Social distancing is especially difficult at this age, but we must continue to be vigilant to the best of our ability. It is also imperative that adults continue to maintain social distancing guidelines, wearing masks when indoors and when at least a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained, avoid touching their face and proper hand hygiene. Again, B”H, the situation seems to be improving. If we continue with our hishtadlus with these guidelines, IY”H, things will continue to improve and even more restrictions can be loosened. In the Zechus that we continue these efforts, may those in need have a Refuah Shleima and may we see Yeshuos B’Karov. From Lakewood Pediatricians: Reuven Shanik, M.D. CHEMED Pediatricians Isaac Braverman, M.D Shlomo Aharon Fenster, M.D. Neal Gittleman, M.D. Chaim Mordechai Golub, M.D. Nochum Indich, M.D. Daniel Lapidus, M.D. Miro Ukraincik, M.D. Yaacov Zamel, M.D. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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Agudath Israel To Cuomo: Open Yeshiva, Shuls, And Summer Camps

Yesterday, a Jewish school in Brooklyn, NY was found hosting students learning in apparent violation of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order. While Agudath Israel of America neither runs nor controls any yeshivos, if any yeshiva violated the Executive Order as it stands, there are no excuses for such behavior. Period. That said, this incident speaks to a larger issue. Courts in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas have struck down Executive Orders that shuttered churches, on the grounds that such orders unlawfully prohibited the free exercise of religion. Yeshivos in our community serve both educational and religious functions, as they transmit our core religious values. Moreover, children have been home for months. Orthodox families tend to be larger, and many live in small, urban apartments. The mental health toll of this pandemic on children and parents alike has been crushing. As COVID-19 cases in New York have dropped for over a month now, and the state is allowing professional sports to resume and jewelry stores to reopen in its Phase 1, the state must prioritize seeking unambiguously safe ways to reopen schools and summer camps for children. We have offered to government that even if a prudent reopening would mandate significant changes in the structure of the classroom or camping experience, this would be far better than the sweeping prohibitions currently in place. We similarly urge the Governor to find safe and responsible ways to allow prayer. Toward that end, Agudath Israel has also met with leading members of the executive branch on this issue. To be clear, the goal is not to encourage opening prematurely or unsafely, but to work with government to ensure that these vital areas are prioritized to open with the utmost caution, but expediently. Religious expression and children’s education should not be last on the list of priorities for safe reopening. In fact, by both legal and moral imperative, they should be among the first. We urge New York to consider and accelerate these requests, while we simultaneously urge our community to obey the current Executive Order, as difficult as it is for us and all Americans, until it is updated. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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Tefillas Hashla Recited by Gedolim at the Kever of the Sheloh Hk’ on Erev Rosh Chosesh Sivan.

Rosh Chodesh Sivan. A time of t’filah. A time to daven for the success of our children to grow to become the b’nai Torah we have been daavening for since they lay there innocently in their crib. For centuries, the Sh’lah’s Tefillah has been recited for our Yiddishe kinder.  Ezer Mizion invites parents and grandparents to send in the names of your children at no cost to be recited at the kever of the Sh’lah by choshuve Talmidei Chachomim to help each precious child experience his own v’haarev nah’ and see yeshuah and hatzlacha ad meod. Submit your names, FREE here: Join Ezer Mizion on Thursday, May 21st 10am EST (5pm Israeli time), for a live feed of Tefillas Yom Kippur Katan led by Gedolim: R’ Binyomin Finkel Shlit’’a, R’ BaruchMordechai Ezrachi Shlit’’a and R’ Shimon Galai Shlit’’a. Deadline for submitting names is Wednesday night. Ezer Mizion is the world’s largest Jewish bone marrow registry saving lives in the U.S., Israel and throughout the world. 

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US Home Construction Drops 30.2% In April As Virus Rages

U.S. home building plunged in April to the lowest level in five years, taken down by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that ground breakings plummeted 30.2% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000. That is the lowest level since February 2015. Construction of single-family homes dropped 25.4% to an annual rate of 650,000. No region was spared. Housing starts dropped 43.6% in the Northeast, 14.9% in the Midwest, 26% in the South and 43.4% in the West. “The monumental decline in home construction activity in April was widely expected, but the decline is breathtaking nevertheless,” said Matthew Speakman, economist for the real estate firm Zillow. “”The monthly decline in housing starts was easily the largest on record.″ The lockdowns and travel restrictions designed to contain the pandemic have brought economic life to a near standstill. The unemployment rate is 14.7%, highest since the Great Depression. Commerce reported a 8.1% drop in the completion of homes under construction, which means many are being left half built. The construction slump is likely to continue. Building permits for new housing dropped 20.8% to an annual rate of 1.07 million. (AP)

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Easyjet Reveals ‘Sophisticated’ Hack Of Customer Details

U.K.-based budget airline easyJet said Tuesday that “highly sophisticated” hackers accessed the email addresses and travel details of approximately 9 million customers. It also said that following a “forensic” investigation, it found that the credit card details of only 2,208 people were accessed and that those affected have already been contacted. It added that all those customers who have been affected will be contacted in the next few days but that there was “no evidence” that the personal information has been misused. “Since we became aware of the incident, it has become clear that owing to COVID-19 there is heightened concern about personal data being used for online scams,” said easyJet Chief Executive Officer Johan Lundgren. Lundgren apologized to those customers affected and said every business must continue to “stay agile to stay ahead of the threat.” The airline, which has grounded its fleet in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, did not reveal when the hack took place. Some airlines are hoping to start flying again in the summer as lockdown restrictions in Europe start being eased. (AP)

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Reb Asher left a widow and 17 children crying out to you for basic needs!

Reb Asher Amar Z”L was survived by his widow and 17 children! 10 of them still home unmarried.He was well known in Yerushalayim, where he was from the founders of the Rabbi Elbaz Yeshivah.Reb Asher was a tremendousירא שמים מקפיד על קלה כבחמורה. CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW And was an event photographer for living.A few years ago he got sick with a deadly virus, which cause him years of pain and suffering.His family tried to help! But what can such young children do to help already?Because of his situation, his business collapsed and threw the family into deep debt, and collections were after them regardless of his situation.  CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW When Reb Asher was Nifter at only 55 years old, the Levaya was a scene full of tears, young and older children were walking after their fathers Aron screaming TATTY TATTY! Who will take care of us?? Who will marry us off?? Since then the family has been living in deep poverty, with no money for their basic needs, and definitely no money for the psychiatric treatments the young children need to go through.WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF THEM?WHO WILL MAKE SURE THESE 10 CHILDREN GET MARRIED? CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW With the guidance of the Rabbonim who are following up with the family, a special קרן צדקה was opened for the family.To raise the funds needed for basic household needs, to make sure the children have what to eat every morning, to provide the children a new shirt for Yom Tov just like their friends, and to save up money to marry them off IY’H. CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW Dear brothers! 17 hopeless children are pleading for your help and asking you to open up your hearts. Check you can make out to: Tomchei Tzedaka corp. Mail: P.o Box 1003, Lakewood NJ 08701 PLEASE SPECIFY FOR “KEREN FAMILY AMAR #10119” CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW

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Walmart Becomes A Lifeline, Online Sales Surge 74%

Walmart became one of the few lifelines to millions of people as the coronavirus spread, leading to surging profit and sales during the fiscal first quarter. Online sales in the U.S. jumped 74% for the quarter ended April 30, which captured the brunt of the pandemic. Same-store sales rose 10% at U.S. Walmart stores on strong sales of food, health and wellness goods. At a time when a huge swath of stores that sell non-essential merchandise temporarily shut down, the nation’s largest retailer had the natural advantage of carrying the very items that consumers needed during the pandemic. But unlike its online rivals like Amazon, Walmart enjoys an extensive network of nearly 5,000 physical stores and a variety of delivery and pick-up options that it ramped up to meet crushing demand for essential items from paper towels to canned food. Walmart’s reputation for low prices also helped as the unemployment rate has spiraled to the high level since the Great Depression. “Having a wide range of fulfillment options, including delivery to home, collection from store — and by using stores for fulfillment— allowed Walmart to ramp up capacity in a way that many other players struggled to do,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. “We also believe that by using stores effectively, Walmart mitigated some of the higher costs associated with the online channel.” Walmart shoppers did not limit their purchases to just essential items, using their federal stimulus checks to buy clothing, TVs and video games, which helped boost sales in April. Walmart also said it’s seeing gains in new customers from across all income brackets. At the same time, company had trouble keeping its shelves stocked and its inventory fell 6.1%. Costs soared as well, to the tune of $900 million — all of it related to the pandemic. Cash bonuses were issued to all hourly workers and Walmart upped pay by $2 per hour at its warehouses. It rolled out an emergency leave policy and spent money on shields at checkout lines. Still, it reported a higher operating profit. Walmart pulled its guidance for the year, citing the chaos of the pandemic. It also pulled the plug on, an online startup that it bought for more than $3 billion in 2016 as it sought to ramp up online operations to compete with Amazon. Before the pandemic, there was already a broadening gap between big box stores and mall-based chains that had struggled to follow customers online. The crisis has accelerated that trend, pushing clothing chains further into peril. J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and Stage Stores have all sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month. Pier 1 Imports, Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 in February, said Tuesday that it’s winding down its business after stores are able to reopen and it can conduct liquidation sales. Home Depot and Kohl’s on Tuesday also joined Walmart to report the full impact of COVID-19 on financial operations, and revealed the vast disparity between those allowed to keep their doors open during the outbreak, and those that were not. Home Depot, another critical supply line for those sheltering at home and focusing on outdoor and indoor projects, reported strong sales and $850 million in additional costs related to COVID-19, mostly to compensate its workers. Kohl’s, with […]

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MAILBAG: Five Towns Beaches Are OK, But Not A Backyard Minyan With Social-Distancing?

Dear YWN, I’ve lived in the Five Towns my entire life and I grew up always in the middle between Yeshivish and Modern, and recently due to the conversation of Minyanim the split has me confused. Although I understand the concept of the extreme Chumra we have on Pikuach Nefesh its been really bothering me how come we cant have a Minyan in a backyard with x’s to mark off spots and a guard to make sure its enforced. I always pride my self in having extreme Emunas Chachamim so of course I will listen to my Rabbonim, but the issue I am about to bring up is the final straw for me. Governor Cuomo recently announced that the beaches will be open for Memorial Day. I know a number of members of local Modern Orthodox Shuls who plan on attending (planning on social distancing) and have already signed up for their beach clubs. These same people scolded the more to the right Rabbonim on allowing Minyanim when people stay on their own property. This to me seems like extreme hypocrisy that I cannot accept. Why haven’t the Modern Orthodox Rabbonim condemned this as they openly do porch Minyanim, and if this is allowed why can’t we have backyard Minyanim?! A disgruntled Five Towns resident. NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN. DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE POSTED ON YWN? SEND IT TO US FOR REVIEW. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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