After a year and three pandemic-induced nationwide closures, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Israel’s infection rate is down while the number of vaccinated people is rising.
This is of course very good news but we cannot let out a sigh of relief just yet. We must remain vigilant lest everything we’ve worked so hard to achieve during the past year goes down the drain.
Purim is upon us, traditionally a time of merriment for children and adults alike.
And while we may have wished to reach Purim 2021 relatively free from the accursed pathogen, the newly discovered variants of the virus have torpedoed any such hopes.
These variants have kept the infection rate and the number of infected high, despite Israel’s very successful vaccination campaign.
We have to consider this during Purim, which is nothing less than a potential hotbed for new coronavirus outbreaks all over the country.
The story of Purim is traditionally read aloud to dozens of people packed into closed spaces; Purim feasts usually include a plethora of family and extended family members; households often exchange gifts and treats as part of the Jewish ritual known as mishloach manot.
While the religious and Haredi populations see Purim as a time of togetherness and acts of kindness such as going house to house to raise money for the less fortunate - I beseech my fellow Jews, this year do not open your doors.
As the head of the Lema'anchem foundation, which advises thousands of patients on getting proper medical treatment, I find myself both relying on donations to continue my work and working non-stop to aid those who need it the most.
That is why I feel justified in saying: Take care of yourselves and your families this holiday by staying at home.
Exchanging gifts can be done by leaving them on the doorstep without coming into contact with one another. Reading the megillah can and should be done outdoors, while synagogues should be open only to those who have been fully inoculated or have recovered from the virus. Donations can made online or over the phone.
We must restrain and remain at home if we wish to celebrate this coming Passover free from the yoke of the virus.
Yossi Erblich is the chairman of Lema'anchem and a public activist in the fields of medicine and medical counselling and guidance