Struck Severely by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Ultra-Orthodox Jews Now Play a Crucial Role in Its Treatment

In their efforts to treat those suffering from COVID-19, doctors have been experimenting with injecting those with severe cases of the disease with the blood plasma of those who are convalescing. The antibodies contained in the plasma are thought to help patients fight the infection. The logistics of this simple treatment are in fact quite complex: suitable and willing donors must be found; the machines needed to extract the plasma do not exist in abundance; the process itself takes over an hour; and the plasma must be transported to those most in need. At the forefront of surmounting these difficulties in the U.S. are a group of Ḥasidim, who began their efforts when one of their own was ill and no plasma was available—but did not stop there. Yonoson Rosenblum reports:

Michael Joyner, [a physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, tasked by the FDA with leading experimentation with plasma treatment], early on came to view the ḥaredi community as a major ally. Because this community was so hard hit by the COVID-19 virus, it constituted a huge reservoir of potential donors. In addition, he understood the community’s ability to mobilize once it identifies a goal.

On [one] occasion, Dr. Joyner called Chaim Lebovits, [the ḥasidic shoe merchant involved in coordinating plasma donations], on a Friday and told him that he needed eleven donors in Brooklyn, Minnesota before the weekend. Lebovits, who wasn’t previously aware of the existence of a Brooklyn in Minnesota, reached out to his connections in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. An hour before the Sabbath began eleven Ḥasidim showed up at the blood center in Brooklyn.

Within two weeks, approximately 5,000 recovered coronavirus victims have signed up. . . . The existing donors are already sufficient to cover every current slot for donations.

In addition, [these] efforts have already had an impact in Israel. Lebovits relates with relish the discussion in his conference call with Joyner, Shmuel Shoham [an Israeli-born physician at Johns Hopkins University working with Lebovits], and senior Magen David Adom (MDA) official in Israel. The MDA official’s main question was, “Where do you find the donors?” Shoham answered him in . . . Hebrew: “What’s your problem? Do what we did! Get the Ḥasidim. You have plenty of Ḥasidim.” The next day, the MDA official called back to say that they had successfully followed Shoham’s advice.

Read more at Mishpacha

More about: American Jewry, Coronavirus, Hasidism, Ultra-Orthodox

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy