Yeshiva World News

Levaya of Longtime Flatbush Hatzolah Paramedic Gary Lava Z”L

YWN regrets to inform you of the sudden Petira of longtime Flatbush Hatzolah Paramedic Yaakov Aryeh Hakohen (Gary) Lava Z”L, known in Hatzolah by his unit number “F-15”. Gary was one of the original Paramedics in Flatbush Hatzolah and trained dozens of Paramedics over the years as a seasoned instructor. He was a member of Hatzolah for around 30 years. Gary suffered a heart attack on Tuesday morning, and was Niftar shortly after. The Aron will be passing the Flatbush Hatzolah garage at 12:45PM for brief reciting of Tehillim (Ocean Avenue and Ave N) on the way to Kevura. Boruch Dayan HaEmmes…

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Half A Million Dead In US, Confirming Virus’s Tragic Reach

For weeks after Cindy Pollock began planting tiny flags across her yard – one for each of the more than 1,800 Idahoans killed by COVID-19 – the toll was mostly a number. Until two women she had never met rang her doorbell in tears, seeking a place to mourn the husband and father they had just lost. Then Pollock knew her tribute, however heartfelt, would never begin to convey the grief of a pandemic that has now claimed 500,000 lives in the U.S. and counting. “I just wanted to hug them,” she said. “Because that was all I could do.” After a year that has darkened doorways across the U.S., the pandemic surpassed a milestone Monday that once seemed unimaginable, a stark confirmation of the virus’s reach into all corners of the country and communities of every size and makeup. “It’s very hard for me to imagine an American who doesn’t know someone who has died or have a family member who has died,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We haven’t really fully understood how bad it is, how devastating it is, for all of us.” Experts warn that about 90,000 more deaths are likely in the next few months, despite a massive campaign to vaccinate people. Meanwhile, the nation’s trauma continues to accrue in a way unparalleled in recent American life, said Donna Schuurman of the Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families in Portland, Oregon. At other moments of epic loss, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans have pulled together to confront crisis and console survivors. But this time, the nation is deeply divided. Staggering numbers of families are dealing with death, serious illness and financial hardship. And many are left to cope in isolation, unable even to hold funerals. In recent weeks, virus deaths have fallen from more than 4,000 reported on some days in January to an average of fewer than 1,900 per day. Still, at half a million, the toll recorded by Johns Hopkins University is already greater than the population of Miami or Kansas City, Missouri. It is roughly equal to the number of Americans killed in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. It is akin to a 9/11 every day for nearly six months. “The people we lost were extraordinary,” President Joe Biden said Monday, urging Americans to remember the individual lives claimed by the virus, rather than be numbed by the enormity of the toll. “Just like that,” he said, “so many of them took their final breath alone in America.” The toll, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths reported worldwide, has far exceeded early projections, which assumed that federal and state governments would marshal a comprehensive and sustained response and individual Americans would heed warnings. Instead, a push to reopen the economy last spring and the refusal by many to maintain social distancing and wear face masks fueled the spread. The figures alone do not come close to capturing the heartbreak. “I never once doubted that he was not going to make it. … I so believed in him and my faith,” said Nancy Espinoza, whose husband, Antonio, was hospitalized with COVID-19 last month. The couple from Riverside County, California, had been together since high school. […]

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How Can I Repay Hashem For All The Good That He Granted Me?

During mid-March of 2020, Rabbi Sofer felt very weak and was unable to eat. Seven days past and still he could not swallow even a morsel of food. On March 28th he started losing consciousness and he was admitted to Maimonides hospital. The staff assumed that he had the coronavirus, so they induced a coma on him and put him on a ventilator. After two months of being alone in the hospital, his wife finally came and noticed that he had no feeding tube! His body consumed 80 lbs. of his own weight. This is how he miraculously survived. Due to being confined to a bed for such a long time, the Rabbi suffered horrible bed sores and his heel needed to be cut off. He also had multiple infections that gave him septic shock, a life-threatening infection causing organ failure. Because of these conditions he was not able to move, walk, or use his fingers and limbs properly. From July 1st until September 16, he was in intense rehabilitation to learn how to walk again. Now, he needs a lot of help with daily activities, such as taking a shower, going to bed, and using his hands to move. CLICK HERE TO DONATE His talmidim hear him saying, “How can I repay Hashem for all the good that he granted me! It is a great miracle that I am alive to tell over my situation to others and help people in similar situations.” My friends, before his health problems began, he was involved in running many mosdos in the community. He also gave shiurim, learned with his talmidim, and influenced many people in the community to keep Torah and mitzvos. He cannot work now, and he requires an aid to help him go about his life, and he owes large sums of money to the hospital. Below, you can find a list of rabbonim along with their phone numbers who personally know Rabbi Sofer and can verify his case. Your donation will bring Rabbi Sofer back to learning and teaching Torah and helping klal Yisrael once again. Thank you and tizku limitzvos. Reuven Yusupon,  A talmid of Rabbi Sofer CLICK HERE TO DONATE

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Germany: Nazi Guard Deported From US Agrees To Be Questioned

A 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard deported from Tennessee has agreed to be questioned by German prosecutors as they re-examine whether there is enough evidence against him to bring charges, authorities said Monday. Friedrich Karl Berger arrived Saturday in Frankfurt on a special flight from the U.S. after being ordered deported to his native Germany by a court in Memphis last year. He was met by Hesse state police detectives at the airport and told them he would be willing to be questioned by investigators with a lawyer present, said Bernd Kolkmeier, spokesman for the Celle prosecutor’s office, which is handling the case. Organizing counsel and ensuring they are up to speed on the facts will take time, however, so the earliest such an interview would take place would be next month, Kolkmeier said. A U.S. immigration judge ordered Berger deported a year ago after finding that his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution. The court found that Berger, who had been living in the U.S. since 1959, had served at a camp in Meppen, Germany, near the border with the Netherlands, which was a subcamp of the larger Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg. It said during the winter of 1945, prisoners in Meppen were held in “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for outdoor forced labor, working “to the point of exhaustion and death.” Berger admitted to American investigators that he served in Meppen as a guard for a few weeks near the end of the war but said he did not observe any abuse or killings. The Memphis court found, however, that Berger had helped guard prisoners during a forced evacuation that took nearly two weeks and claimed the lives of 70 people. Celle prosecutors shelved their initial investigation of him in December, however, saying they had been unable to refute his account. They’re now having another look, with him back on German soil, Kolkmeier said. “Nothing has changed except that he is now in Germany and we can talk with him,” Kolkmeier said. “We can personally question him, which is naturally different than reading a transcript.” Kolkmeier would not say whether Berger still had family in Germany nor where he was residing. Berger, who was born in 1925 in the tiny northern town of Bargen, was serving in the German Navy when he was assigned to guard prisoners in Meppen in 1945, according to the Neuengamme Memorial’s website. He served between Jan. 28, 1945 and April 4, 1945, as an auxiliary attached to the SS command of the camp, according to Celle prosecutors. Berger is being investigated under a precedent established in 2011 with the conviction of former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk as an accessory to murder on allegations that he served as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in German-occupied Poland. Demjanjuk, who denied the allegations, died before his appeal could be heard. German courts previously required prosecutors to justify charges by presenting evidence of a former guard’s participation in a specific killing, often a near-impossible task. However, prosecutors successfully argued during Demjanjuk’s trial in Munich that helping a camp function by serving as a guard was enough to convict someone of accessory to murders committed there. A federal court […]

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Facebook Says It Will Lift Its Australian News Ban Soon

Facebook said on Tuesday it will lift its ban on Australians sharing news after it struck a deal with Australia’s government on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed that they have agreed on amendments to proposed legislation to require the social network and Google to pay for Australian news that they feature. Facebook’s cooperation is a major victory in Australian efforts to make the two gateways to the Internet pay for the journalism that they use. Facebook blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news last week after the House of Representatives passed the draft law late Wednesday. Initially, the Facebook news blockade cut access — at least temporarily — to government pandemic, public health and emergency services, sparking public outrage. The Senate will debate amended legislation on Tuesday. Frydenberg described the agreed upon amendments as “clarifications” of the government’s intent. He said his negotiations with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg were “difficult.” “There is no doubt that Australia has been a proxy battle for the world,” Frydenberg said. “Facebook and Google have not hidden the fact that they know that the eyes of the world are on Australia and that is why they have sought to get a code here that is workable,” he added, referring to the country’s News Media Bargaining Code legislation. The code would undermine the bargaining dominance of Facebook and Google in their negotiations with Australian news providers by requiring a negotiation safety net in the form of an arbitration panel. The digital giants would not be able to abuse their overwhelming negotiating positions by making take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism. In case of a standoff, the panel would make a binding decision on a winning offer. Swinburne University senior lecturer on media Belinda Barnet said the proposed amendments guarantee Facebook time to strike deals before the arbitration panel decides on a price for news. Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Center for Responsible Technology, a think tank, said in a statement that the “amendments keep the integrity of the media code intact.” Google also had threatened to remove its search functions from Australia because it said the proposed law was unworkable. But that threat has faded. Google has been signing up Australia’s largest media companies in content licensing deals through its News Showcase model. The platform says it has deals with more than 50 Australian titles through Showcase and more than 500 publishers globally using the model which was launched in October. Facebook said it will now negotiate deals with Australian publishers under its own model, Facebook News. “We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them,” Facebook regional managing director William Easton said. “As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days, ” Easton added. (AP)

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Biden Attempt To Resurrect Nuke Deal Gets Chilly Response From Iran

The Biden administration’s early efforts to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are getting a chilly early response from Tehran. Though few expected a breakthrough in the first month of the new administration, Iran’s tough line suggests a difficult road ahead. Having made several significant overtures to Iran in its first weeks in office, the administration’s outreach has been all but shunned by the Iranians. They had already rejected Biden’s opening gambit: a U.S. return to the deal from which President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 if Iran resumes full compliance with its obligations under the accord. Iran is shaping up to be a major test of the Biden administration’s overall approach to foreign policy, which the president has said will realign itself with the kind of multilateral diplomacy that Trump shunned. Although there are other hot-button issues — Russia, China and North Korea among them — Iran has a particular significance for Biden’s top national security aides. They include Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and special envoy for Iran Rob Malley, all of whom were intimately involved in crafting the 2015 deal under President Barack Obama and may have personal stakes in salvaging it. Biden took office pledging to reverse Trump’s pullout from the deal, which gave it billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Just last week, Biden delivered in at least three ways: agreeing to return to multinational talks with Iran about reviving the deal, rescinding Trump’s determination that all U.N. sanctions on Iran must be restored, and easing onerous travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations. Yet, Iran has held firm to demands that it will not respond to anything less than a full lifting of the sanctions Trump reimposed. Over the weekend, Iran made good on a threat to suspend adherence to a U.N. agreement allowing intrusive inspections of its declared nuclear sites. Although it stopped short of ordering the removal of international inspectors, Iran reduced cooperation with them and vowed to revisit the step in three months if sanctions aren’t removed. The Iranians’ hard-nosed stance has left the administration at the cusp of a difficult choice: move ahead with sanctions relief before Iran resumes full compliance and risk losing the leverage it has or double down on demands for full compliance first and risk Tehran walking away from the deal completely. It’s a delicate balance and one the administration is loath to admit it faces, given the politically sensitive nature of Iran in Washington — Republicans strongly oppose the nuclear deal — and in Europe and the Middle East itself, particularly in Israel and the Gulf Arab states that are most directly threatened. On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed that the U.S. is prepared to return to the nuclear deal provided Tehran shows “strict compliance” with it. Speaking to the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Blinken said the U.S. is committed to ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon and pledged to work with allies and partners to “lengthen and strengthen” the deal struck between Iran and Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and the U.S. “Diplomacy is the best path to achieve that goal.” he said. Just 24 hours earlier, though, Iran on Sunday rejected entreaties […]

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UK Data: COVID-19 Vaccines Sharply Cut Hospitalizations

Two U.K. studies released Monday showed that COVID-19 vaccination programs are contributing to a sharp drop in hospitalizations, boosting hopes that the shots will work as well in the real world as they have in carefully controlled studies. Preliminary results from a study in Scotland found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduced hospital admissions by up to 85% four weeks after the first dose, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot cut admissions by up to 94%. In England, preliminary data from a study of health care workers showed that the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of catching COVID-19 by 70% after one dose, a figure that rose to 85% after the second. “This new evidence shows that the jab protects you, and protects those around you,” U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said. “It is important that we see as much evidence as possible on the vaccine’s impact on protection and on transmission and we will continue to publish evidence as we gather it.’’ The studies were released as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out plans Monday to ease a lockdown that has shuttered pubs, schools and nonessential shops since early January. The vaccine rollout is critical to returning the country to some sense of normalcy. More than 17.5 million have received one vaccine dose so far — more than a third of the U.K.’s adult population. Britain has had Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 120,000 deaths. Public Health England said its study of health-care workers suggest the vaccine may help prevent virus transmission “as you cannot spread the virus if you do not have infection.” The findings are based on COVID-19 testing conducted every two weeks that detects infections whether or not someone shows symptoms. Broader testing in the overall population showed that the Pfizer vaccine was 57% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in people over 80 three to four weeks after the first dose. That rose to more than 85% after the second dose. Overall, hospitalizations and death should be reduced by over 75% after one dose of the vaccine, Public Health England said. The agency said it is still monitoring the impact of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but “early signals in the data suggest it is providing good levels of protection from the first dose.” U.K. regulators authorized widespread use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Dec. 30, almost a month after they approved the Pfizer vaccine. The Scotland study was conducted by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland. The preliminary findings were based on a comparison of people who had received one dose of vaccine and those who hadn’t been inoculated yet. The data was gathered between Dec. 8 and Feb. 15, a period when 21% of Scotland’s population received their first vaccine shot. “These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future,” said Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute. “We now have national evidence — across an entire country — that vaccination provides protection against COVID-19 hospitalizations.” About 650,000 people in Scotland received the Pfizer vaccine during the study period and 490,000 got the AstraZeneca shot, the Usher Institute said. Because hospitalization data was collected 28 days after inoculation, the data on hospital admissions came from a […]

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“The great transformation of Avigdor from failure to major success!”

From an early age I had difficulty reading Hebrew and learning Gemara, and I never really understood the Gemara.  As result, I felt myself losing hope of ever being able to understand Gemara and feeling confused by this since I was talented in other areas.  I couldn’t get into a good Yeshiva and the truth is that I wasn’t very successful at listening to and understanding shiurim.  No one wanted to learn with me, which meant that I was either on my own or with a chavrusa who wasn’t interested in learning. After trying out several shiurim in the yeshiva, which left me in great despair of ever being able to participate in shiur, I shared my frustration with the maggid shiur, telling him that I was leaving.  He then told me, “You’ll be a baal bayit and not a talmid chacham“, and I accepted his words. In the following years I tried to overcome my learning difficulties in many ways.  Some things I tried actually sound funny, but when I remember my many failed attempts to improve my learning, I have to hold back my tears.  With siyata d’shmaya, I met HaRav Zobin shlita, who immediately discovered the cause of my learning problem and made the connection between my poor reading and Gemara learning. As a result of the tutoring, I experienced ongoing self-growth and discovery as I began reading rapidly and accurately. I was able to actualize my dream and finished an entire masechet instead of learning just a few pages like in the past. Not only was I able to read better, but I was also able to understand everything so clearly that everyone thought I was an expert on the topic.  I began to enjoy learning and finished most of Shas in a few years, began learning b’iyun, and had a new world open up for me.  Avigdor K., N.Y. You too can transform your struggling son\daughter or student to a successful learner rapidly!! Be from the first 5 to sign up and receive a $500 professional assessment FREE!! and learn how to lead your son\daughter or student to succeed and regain their self confidence!!             CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE $500 ASSESSMENT!! The assessment is conducted personally by the world leading remediation expert of over 30 years experience Rabbi Zvi Zobin who has lead thousands to success and learn how you can lead your son\daughter or student to success. Many students struggle with their Limudei Kodesh and in many situations try for years to solve the issues and many times with little success. Rav Zobin has proven thousands of times that with his precise method of assessing and isolating the core problem and with precise and powerfully focused techniques the issues can be solved very rapidly.             CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE $500 ASSESSMENT!! Here are what some parents say… How did you do it? I paid out $40,000 during the past three years in attempts to improve my son’s reading skills, with no success. And in only six sessions with you he’s already correcting my reading. Yisrael_CBeit Shemesh, Israel As the father of 14 year old child with reading difficulties, it was very difficult for me to see the pain […]

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Centrist Democrats Flex Muscles, Create Headaches For Biden

A moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia is suddenly one of the most powerful people in Washington. Sen. Joe Manchin has had multiple one-on-one phone calls with President Joe Biden. He can send the White House into a tailspin with a single five-minute interview or three-sentence statement. And he may have already derailed some of the administration’s policy priorities and a Cabinet nominee. And it’s not just Manchin who’s wielding outsize influence over Biden’s agenda. With a 50-50 split in the Senate leaving little room for error on tough votes, other moderate Democrats like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana also hold significant political clout in Biden’s Washington, making for a muscular counterweight to the progressives who make up the party’s base. “Each and every one of these members has the ability to be the king- or queen-maker on Capitol Hill,” said Jim Manley, a longtime aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “If they stick together, and flex their muscles — especially given the tight margins in both the House and the Senate — they can have a real impact.” While Biden spent much of the 2020 Democratic primary and general election campaigns being hounded by progressives for not embracing far-left positions on everything from criminal justice to health care, his first month in office has won praise from some of his most prominent former antagonists on the left like Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Now it’s the moderates who are creating headaches for the Democratic president. Late last week, Manchin all but tanked the Biden administration’s nominee for Office of Management and Budget director, Neera Tanden, when he issued a brief statement opposing her nomination because of her controversial tweets attacking members of both parties. Tanden’s prospects for approval immediately sank. Political observers are also waiting to see if Manchin will support Surgeon General nominee Vivek Murthy, whom he opposed in 2014. A few weeks back, Manchin created a stir when he publicly criticized Vice President Kamala Harris for doing a TV interview with a local West Virginia station that was seen as an effort to pressure him to support the COVID-19 bill. He received a call from the White House shortly after his complaint to try to smooth things over. Manchin is one of a handful of centrist Democrats who have expressed skepticism about Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill, threatening to derail the president’s top priority if they don’t win concessions. Manchin, Sinema and Tester have all called for more targeted aid for Americans, and they, along with five other centrist Democrats and seven Republicans, all signed onto an amendment barring “upper-income taxpayers” from being eligible to receive stimulus checks. “The challenge here is, I don’t want to do too much, and I don’t want to do too little,” Tester said. “I want to make sure it’s targeted and justified.” Manchin and Sinema also oppose Biden’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, likely ensuring that it’s removed from the final COVID-19 bill even if the Senate parliamentarian rules it can be included. They’ve also both drawn the ire of progressives for their refusal to support eliminating the 60-vote threshold for approving most legislation, with one progressive group threatening to recruit primary challengers to oppose them. Moderates are certain […]

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Biden Asks High Court To Drop 2 Trump-Era Medicaid Cases

The Biden administration is asking the Supreme Court not to hear arguments in two cases on its March calendar about the Trump administration’s plan to remake Medicaid by requiring recipients to work. The Biden administration has been moving to roll back those Trump-era plans and cited “greatly changed circumstances” in asking Monday that the cases be dropped from the court’s argument calendar. They are currently scheduled to be heard on March 29. The court has been hearing arguments by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic. The high court had in December agreed to review lower-court decisions involving Arkansas and New Hampshire that found that the Trump administration’s support for work requirements went beyond what’s allowed by law. Arkansas on Monday opposed the Biden administration’s request that the cases be dropped, writing in a brief that the “central question in these cases — what Medicaid’s objectives are — will likely return” to the Supreme Court and that the need to decide the cases is “as pressing today” as when the court agreed to hear them in December. The timing of the court’s decision last year to take up the cases was curious because by that time it was clear that Biden would become president and that his administration would be unlikely to continue Trump’s plans. Congress has also barred states from restricting eligibility during the public health emergency. Medicaid is a $600 billion federal-state program that covers about 70 million people, from pregnant women and newborns to disabled people and nursing home residents. Under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, states gained the option of expanding the program to many low-income adults previously ineligible. More than 12 million people have gained coverage as a result. (AP)

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Heartrending Video: 10-Yr.-Old Who Lost Father To Virus Begs Am Yisrael To Vaccinate

Yael Attias, 10, lost her father to the coronavirus last week and in an effort to spare others the heartbreak and sorrow she’s experiencing, implored Am Yisrael to be vaccinated, Kikar H’Shabbos reported. Rav Yaakov Uriel Attias, z’l, a 42-year-old avreich, a resident of Beit Shemesh, passed away of the coronavirus over Shabbos. He had no preexisting health issues but nevertheless, after contracting the virus, his condition quickly deteriorated and he was hospitalized and sedated and ventilated. The doctors fought for his life for three weeks but sadly the battle ended tragically and he passed away, leaving his wife, who is in an advanced stage of pregnancy, and three children. “If you truly love and worry for the people who are important to you, go be vaccinated and don’t endanger others,” Yael said. “It’s the only thing that will help us to win this stupid coronavirus.” (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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“Purim Could Set Us Back By Weeks,” Israel’s COVID Czar Says

Israel’s reproduction number (the number of people each carrier infects) has risen in recent days after weeks of declining, standing at 0.86 on Tuesday, the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center reported. The reproduction number on Friday was 0.79, the lowest in months. “In the coming weeks an increase in the infection rate may be noted, due to the lifting of restrictions and the widespread British variant,” the report stated, adding that the British variant is “30-70% deadlier than the original virus.” Health officials are concerned, especially due to the fear of mass gatherings over Purim. The coronavirus cabinet is scheduled to convene on Tuesday to make a decision on implementing health restrictions on Purim, with media reports saying that ministers are likely to agree to impose a nighttime curfew and reduce public transportation over Purim. “If there’s an increase in infections on Purim, we’ll have to reclose the doors,” coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash said on Tuesday. Israel’s Health Ministry reported 4,677 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, with tests showing a 7% positivity rate, a slight rise from the 6.5% weekly average. There are currently 41,487 active virus cases, with 797 seriously ill patients, of whom 248 are ventilated. The death toll has risen to 5,604. A full 77% of new coronavirus patients are under the age of 39 and only 6.2% of patients are over the age of 60. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced on Tuesday morning that over 70% of Israelis over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of the vaccine. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Explainer: Why A Plane’s Engine Exploded Over Denver

The investigation into an engine explosion on a jetliner taking off from Denver is focusing on broken fan blades, a development reminiscent of a fatal failure on board another plane in 2018. These and other recent engine failures raise questions over long-held assumptions about how long fan blades last and whether they are being inspected often enough. A Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines had to make an emergency landing in Denver after one of its engines blew apart, spewing huge chunks of wreckage that landed in suburban neighborhoods. Passengers captured video of the crippled engine, wobbling and still on fire, as pilots made a safe return to the airport minutes after the plane bound for Hawaii took off. WHAT HAPPENED? U.S. officials said late Sunday that two fan blades in the Pratt & Whitney engine broke off. Experts said it is likely that one blade snapped first and chopped off the second. Federal Aviation Administration head Stephen Dickson said inspectors quickly concluded that inspections should be done more frequently for the type of hollow fan blades in certain Pratt & Whitney engines that are used on some Boeing 777s. As a result, 69 planes and another 59 in storage were grounded in the U.S., Japan and South Korea, the only countries with planes using this particular engine. United, the only U.S. carrier with affected planes, said it grounded 24 Boeing 777s and 28 others will remain parked. Japanese regulators ordered Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to ground 32 planes, and South Korea’s Korean Air and Asiana Airlines said Monday they will ground their Boeing 777s. WHAT ARE INVESTIGATORS LOOKING INTO? Safety experts said the investigation will focus on why the fan blades snapped — whether mistakes were made in manufacturing or maintenance, or problems were missed during inspections — and whether blade inspections need to be done differently or more often. They will compare Saturday’s incident with similar ones in December in Japan and in 2018 on another United flight to Hawaii. Investigators will also look at why the cowling, which covers the front of the engine, broke off along with other parts. Photos purported to show a large gash to the lower side of the plane. “That was a substantial hit,” said John Goglia, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating Saturday’s incident. “If that had hit the wing, things might have been different because the wing is full of fuel” and the broken engine was still on fire. Another concern: The engine remained on fire even after pilots presumably shut off its fuel supply. That could indicate a fuel leak, said Todd Curtis, a former Boeing engineer and now a safety consultant. HOW MUCH DANGER WERE PASSENGERS IN? Saturday’s incident is called an “uncontained” failure because debris blew off the disintegrating engine, creating shrapnel that can damage key systems like hydraulic lines or hit the passenger cabin. The last accident-related death on a U.S. airline flight occurred in 2018, when a broken fan blade triggered an engine breakup on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737. Part of the engine housing struck and broke a window. The passenger in the window seat was blown halfway outside and died of her injuries. That engine was made by a different company, CFM International, a joint […]

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Israel: 70% Of Pregnant Women Haven’t Been Vaccinated Against COVID

On the background of the tragic death of Osnat Ben-Shitrit on Motzei Shabbos, Kan News published a report based on data from Israel’s Kupot Cholim, showing that only one-third of pregnant women in Israel have been vaccinated. The report added that Israel’s Society of Obstetrics sent a letter to the Health Ministry requesting that a hotline be opened to answer the numerous questions pregnant women have on the issue. Israel’s Health Ministry has recommended that all pregnant women be vaccinated, stressing that any risks of the vaccine are outweighed by the risks to the mother and fetus. HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky has given his bracha to the measure, saying that no one should fear getting vaccinated. On Sunday, the Health Ministry published data showing that 50 pregnant women ill with the coronavirus are currently hospitalized in Israel’s hospitals, with 10 in serious condition, 8 in critical condition, 7 ventilated, and one attached to an ECMO machine. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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NYC To Test No-Police Mental Crisis Response In Harlem

New York City police will stay out of many mental health crisis calls and social workers will respond instead in parts of northern Manhattan starting this spring, an official told lawmakers Monday. The test program will begin in three Harlem and East Harlem police precincts that together accounted for a highest-in-the-city total of over 7,400 mental health-related 911 calls last year, said Susan Herman, who heads a wide-ranging city mental health initiative called ThriveNYC. The details fleshed out a plan the city outlined broadly in November, aiming to keep psychiatric crises from escalating into confrontations and to provide people with more health-focused help. The experiment “will be a critical step forward in the city’s commitment to treat mental health crises as public health problems, not public safety issues,” Herman told a City Council committee. She said the city hopes to make the program citywide as quickly as possible. Some important specifics remain to be seen in practice, including how real-time decisions about when to summon police — who will still respond to calls involving a weapon or “imminent risk of harm” — will play out. And the union that represents the city’s EMTs says the city needs to make sure they’re safe before going ahead. Mental health advocates have hailed the idea but expressed some reservations about how the city is structuring it. “Trying to move away from the police being the first responders in a mental health crisis is a step in the right direction,” said Cal Hedigan, CEO of a mental health organization called Community Access. But she wishes the response teams would include people who have had mental illness and are trained to help others. Otherwise, “you run the risk of replacing one flawed system with another that doesn’t have an important element,” Hedigan said. Calls for changing how authorities respond to people in distress have resounded across the country amid cases such as that of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after police in Rochester put an anti-spitting hood over his head and restrained him to the ground while he was having a mental health crisis in March. This month, a 9-year-old Black girl ended up being handcuffed and pepper sprayed after police responded to a domestic situation called in by her mother and the girl became emotional. Some other U.S. cities, including Denver and San Francisco, have recently replaced or planned to replace police with mental health professionals in some situations. Eugene, Oregon, has had one for decades. In New York City, police and EMTs responded to all 154,000 calls to 911 for emergency behavioral health help last year. Nearly half ended with someone being hospitalized; fewer than 1 in 100 resulted in arrests, police officials told the council committee. The new test program will dispatch teams of two Fire Department EMTs and one social worker each, available 16 hours a day, Herman said. The New York Police Department is working with ThriveNYC “to ensure that the appropriate agency responds to people in mental health crisis,” police spokesperson Al Baker said in a statement. Herman said hiring was under way for the new program, and it would start as soon as the needed staffers were hired and trained. The Fire Department has expressed support for the test program and declined to comment further on […]

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Wife Of Drug Kingpin ‘El Chapo’ Arrested On US Drug Charges

The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested Monday at an airport in Virginia on international drug trafficking charges, the Justice Department said, spelling out in detail how she helped plot her husband’s daring escape from a Mexico prison. Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Mexico, was arrested at Dulles International Airport and is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Tuesday. She is charged in a single-count criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the U.S. The Justice Department also accuses her of helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 and participating in the planning of a second prison escape before Guzman was extradited to the U.S. in January 2017. Coronel Aispuro remained in custody, and it was not immediately clear if she had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. As Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Guzman escaped through an entry under the shower in his cell to a milelong (1.6-kilometer-long) lighted tunnel with a motorcycle on rails. The planning for the escape was extensive, prosecutors say, with his wife playing a key role. Court papers charge that Coronel Aispuro worked with Guzman’s sons and a witness, who is now cooperating with the U.S. government, to organize the construction of the underground tunnel that Guzman used to escape from the Altiplano prison in Mexico to prevent him from being extradited to the U.S. The plot included purchasing a piece of land near the prison, firearms and an armored truck and smuggling him a GPS watch so they could “pinpoint his exact whereabouts so as to construct the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him,” the court papers say. Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in 2019. His Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in recent court papers. They also said his “army of sicarios,” or “hit men,” was under orders to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who got in his way. Coronel Aispuro, a former teen beauty queen, regularly attended Guzman’s trial, even when testimony cast her in a harsh light. The two, separated in age by more than 30 years, have been together since at least 2007 and share twin daughters, who were born in 2011. Her father, Ines Coronel Barreras, was arrested in 2013 with one of his sons and several other men in a warehouse with hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the border from Douglas, Arizona. Months earlier, the U.S. Treasury had announced financial sanctions against Coronel Barreras for his alleged drug trafficking. After Guzman was rearrested following his escape, Coronel Aispuro lobbied the Mexican government to improve her husband’s prison conditions. And after he was convicted in 2019, she moved to launch a clothing line in his name. (AP)

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Do you know who are buried here? (Hint: You heard of them)

This is an historic opportunity that has never been done by us before (and it’s still free) In honor of Purim, Yad L’Achim has arranged for several Talmidei Chachamim, Rabbanim from Iran who will travel the long distance to Hamadan, Iran to the resting place of Mordechai and Queen Esther on Taanis Esther and daven for all who submit their names for Tefillah through Yad L’Achim (no minimum donation required)You can submit your names by CLICKING HERE,  visiting or by calling Yad L’Achim at 1-866-923-5224 PS. You can also fulfil the mitzvah of Matanas L’Evyonim on Purim and the great mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuyim, redeeming of captives.  On this holy day of Taanis Esther at this holy place, have your names davened for free through Yad L’Achim – right before Purim!You can submit your names by CLICKING HERE,  visiting or by calling Yad L’Achim at 1-866-923-5224

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Purim Seudah Overview – And When it Falls on Friday

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for It is a mitzvah to have a festive meal on Purim (Ramah 695:1). It is during this meal that one experiences the most profound growth and escalation in our connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. This meal should include both meat and wine. One should also wash on bread at this festive meal because there are many authorities who hold that it is an obligation (Raavya Vol. II Siman 563).  By the same token, it is preferable to have beef during this meal and not just chicken, as there are some authorities who hold that chicken does not fulfill the requirement of simcha. STATE OF HAPPINESS A person should eat and drink the seudah in a state of happiness. One should gladden every family member at this meal (See Eliyahu Rabba 695:4 and Rashi Megillah 9:28).  Individual attention should be given to each family member. AT LEAST TWO ITEMS The meal should have at least two items, meat and some other dish (See Rambam 2:15 who learns that the obligation of Mishloach Manos stems from the obligation of the Seudah).  This is at a minimum. Indeed, the Rambam indicates that one should arrange and organize the best meal that one can (Hilchos Megillah 2:15). DURING THE DAY This meal is held during the day. If one holds it at night, he has failed to fulfill his obligation. Nevertheless, one’s evening meal should be more festive than usual. One should wear clothing befitting a festival, and rejoice. WHEN PURIM FALLS ON EREV SHABBOS The Ramah (Shulchan Aruch OC 695:2) writes that when Purim falls on a Friday, the Purim seudah should be held in the morning on account of Kavod Shabbos.  The Mishna Brurah (695:10) cites Rav Yaakov Emden in his Siddur Amudei Shamayim that this means before Chatzos – midday. The Mishnah Berurah further references Rav Ephraim Zalman Margolias(1762-1828), author of the Yad Efrayim,  who quotes the Maharil, that one may lechatchila hold the seudah up until the tenth hour of the day – that is three halachic hours before Shabbos begins. It is interesting to note that he only references it, but he does not state so fully.  Rather, he writes, v’ayin b’yad Ephraim mah shekasav b’shaim haMaharil.  One of my Rebbeim interpreted this to mean that the Chofetz Chaim that Lechatchilah, the Kavod Shabbos factor trumps the language of the Maharil, but he did not wish to go head to head against the words of the Maharil, so he just referenced it. [Parehthetically, there seems to be a three-way debate about the concept of Kavod Shabbos – is it from the Torah, is it Halacha l’Moshe MiSinai, or is it of Rabbinic origin?  The BaHaG and the Yereim hold that it is of Torah origin, the Rambam holds that it is Halacha L’Moshe MiSinai, and the Sheiltos holds that it is strictly of Rabbinic origin. The Mishna Brurah in 242:1 seems to be non-commital.] STRICT LETTER OF THE LAW M’ikar HaDin, according to the strict letter of the law, the Ramah had previously written (OC 249:2 and the Mishna Brurah) that if a Seudas Mitzvah falls on a Friday, it is permitted to hold it until Bain HaShmashos, after which one covers the bread and recites the kiddush and continues the meal. The […]

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11-Yr.-Old Israeli Girl Hospitalized In ICU After Contracting Virus

An 11-year-old girl with no pre-existing medical issues was hospitalized in serious condition in the pediatric ICU at Kaplan Hospital in Rechovot after contracting the coronavirus. She arrived at the hospital on Motzei Shabbos with severe respiratory difficulties. “At around three in the morning, I heard a scream: ‘Abba, I’m suffocating!’ her father Roi told Channel 12 News. “Her oxygen level was only 78, very low.” “We immediately called an ambulance which took her to Kaplan. There they told us that she’s suffering from pneumonia resulting from the virus.” “Her condition was really not good but this morning her condition improved and we’re hoping for the best. Whoever claims that children don’t get seriously ill with the coronavirus, I say – look at the situation my child reached, she couldn’t breathe without help, even for a short time.” There are currently 48 children hospitalized with the coronavirus in Israel, with nine in serious condition and six in critical condition, with eight children hospitalized in the past two days alone. There are eight children hospitalized in Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, five in Mayanei HaYeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak, five in Kaplan Medical Center in Rechovot, and three infants hospitalized in Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. The remaining children are hospitalized in various other hospitals throughout Israel. The number of coronavirus cases in children has risen sharply due to the British variant. In November 2020, there were 400 coronavirus cases in children under the age of two. By February 2021, there were 5,800 cases in children under two. “There’s no doubt that the British variant of COVID-19 is ‘partial’ to children and the infection rate among them is higher than we’ve seen with earlier variants,” said Prof. Eli Somekh, head of pediatrics at the Mayanei Hayeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Supreme Court Rejects Trump Election Challenge Cases

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a handful of cases related to the 2020 election, including disputes from Pennsylvania that had deeply divided the justices just before the election. The cases the justices rejected involved election challenges filed by former President Donald Trump and his allies in five states President Joe Biden won: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Other than two Pennsylvania disputes, the justices’ decision not to hear the cases was unsurprising but ends months of legal wrangling. The court had previously taken no action in those cases and in January had turned away pleas that the cases be fast-tracked, again suggesting the justices were not interested in hearing them. Some of the justices, however, had strong feelings about the court’s decision not to hear two cases from Pennsylvania that had been particularly contentious in the battleground state. The cases involved an appeal of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision requiring election officials to receive and count mailed-in ballots that arrived up to three days after the election. Three of the nine justices said they would have heard the case, which would not have affected the election’s outcome. Justice Clarence Thomas called the cases an “ideal opportunity” to address an important question whether state lawmakers or state courts get the last word about the manner in which federal elections are carried out. And he called it “befuddling” and “inexplicable” that his colleagues were declining to weigh in. “We failed to settle this dispute before the election, and thus provide clear rules. Now we again fail to provide clear rules for future elections. The decision to leave election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling. By doing nothing, we invite further confusion and erosion of voter confidence,” he wrote. Thomas cited the expansion of mail-in voting as another reason to take the case and said “fraud is more prevalent with mail-in ballots.” Trump had made claims of massive fraud in the vastly expanded use of mailed in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic, but courts found no evidence to substantiate those claims. Pennsylvania lawmakers, for their part, made changes to the state’s election laws in response to the pandemic but left in place a Nov. 3 deadline to receive absentee ballots. Democrats sued, and Pennsylvania’s highest court cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and United States Postal Service delays in extending the deadline for mailed-in ballots to be received. Republicans had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put that extension on hold ahead of the election. But in October, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and before Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to her seat, the justices split 4-4 over doing so, keeping the three-day extension for receiving ballots in place. In practice, however, because of the ongoing lawsuit, those late-arriving ballots were separated out and have not yet been counted. The state has said that ultimately, fewer than 10,000 ballots were received during those three days. That small number of ballots would not have altered the outcome of the presidential election in the state, which former President Donald Trump lost by some 80,000 votes. Pennsylvania officials had argued that the case was moot because the state’s election results had already been certified. Republicans argued the justices should take the case to provide guidance for future […]

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