Tuesday, January 19, 2021 -
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The great equalizer

Along with the rest of the world, I am amazed and inspired to witness Israel’s distribution of the COVID vaccine. Its official. Little Israel, a country the size of NJ with a population roughly equivalent to that of New York, is the global leader in vaccinating her citizens.

Meanwhile, here in NYC, the vaccine situation is, at best, quite amorphous.

At worse, sheer incompetence. No one seems to really know what’s going on.

Israel has vaccinated over 1.1 million of her citizens in two weeks. Yet NYC has vaccinated around 100,000 in three weeks. Significantly, Israel has vaccinated a critical mass of its at risk population, essentially preventing future fatalities from corona.

The New York news cycle is still focused on reporting the soaring numbers of COVID patients versus being able to report about vaccine distribution success.

In fact, the government has created a huge penalty to punish vaccine providers for showing disregard in vaccine prioritization.

Meanwhile, from Israel, I saw the following tweet from a Yaniv Erlich:

“Here is a prime example from today to Israel’s ‘organized chaos.’ End of the day in a vaccine center. A few doses left that will expire. Nurses go out and spot a pizza delivery guy. Call after him: pizza guy wanna a vaccine?” Jab. Another person has spike mRNA!”

Yes, I respect the matrix set up for who ought to be vaccinated first. Prioritization makes sense and is certainly important. But only up to a point. When the vaccines have a shelf life and unless otherwise used by a particular date will expire and need to be tossed, then getting on the game of distribution is crucial. Indulging in discussions about exceptions, about who got lifesaving vaccines that actually contribute to their personal health and the overall wellness of our society, seem petty and irrelevant.

Crowds upon crowds have been gathering outside hospitals and vaccine centers in Israel. The policy is 24/7. Dedicated nurses are working around the clock so as to accelerate the vaccine process in an effort to create herd immunity as quickly as possible.

Of course, much of this effort depends on the hope that there won’t be too many new virus strains developed, which would possibly render this remarkable vaccine distribution process useless.

A friend of mine commented to me that she believes Israel’s vaccine distribution success is due to its socialized medicine system. Interesting, but I beg to differ.

I think we are witnessing something deeper about Israel as we marvel at how incredible Israel’s accomplishment has been.

After all is said and done, and having had to cope with many bureaucratic frustrations in Israel, when it comes to crisis, or rather, to managing crisis, no one has an oiled machine in place like Israel.

In a sense, this extraordinary competence is sad. It’s borne of necessity and speaks to Israel’s need to have perfected a way of living with constant existential threats.

Deeper still is the reason that drives these highly developed mechanics and logistics of operation.

It’s a respect and reverence for Life.


When it comes to preserving life, this is Israel’s highest calling and highest value. Be it a war. Be it a war on a pandemic. Life matters. And everyone’s life matters; especially those more vulnerable like the elderly and the immuno-compromised.

“To Life. L’chaim,” we raise our glasses when we toast one another.

In moments of joy and celebration, this is the highest blessing we can bestow upon one another.

This is the great equalizer of Israeli society.

The basic right to life superseding all.

There is also that magical sense of family that is inextricable amongst the people and the country.

Israel truly is more than a country, more than a government, and it’s at times like these when that sense of Israel being a home is highlighted, like no other.

I’m so proud of Israel. Little, geographically. Enormous.

Copyright © 2021 by the Intermountain Jewish News

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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