Letters | May 6, 2020


ZOA, HIAS and the Tree of Life

Who could believe that a major Jewish organization would delay the selection of a new leader because of her role in another Jewish organization? (“Compromise on Presidents Conference chair reveals tensions,” washingtonjewishweek.com, April 29) What is particularly disturbing is that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the group with which Dianne Lob has an affiliation, and was singled out by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), is the same organization cited by Robert Bowers, the white supremacist who killed worshippers in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

It would be refreshing if the ZOA would recognize how their anti-immigrant positions contribute to the anti-Semitism against their own people.

Death at the Hebrew Home

Any death of even one of our people is sad and unfortunate. Given the age and condition of most of the residents at the Hebrew Home, deaths occur frequently at both the Smith-Kogod and Wasserman buildings.

Suzanne Pollak’s April 30 article identifying four deaths from COVID-19 (washingtonjewishweek.com) raises a few questions. How many residents have had this disease and survived? How many are still ill? Of those who did not survive the illness, how many were ill enough that they might have died soon from other causes? Without more information, it is difficult to evaluate how well the Hebrew Home is doing protecting our elderly population. The Wall Street Journal has been investigating a pattern of substantial undercounting deaths from COVID-19 at nursing homes throughout the country. My impression is that the Hebrew Home’s record to date seems to rank very high compared to those of nursing homes in general.


COVID-19 is a novel disease to which no one had antibodies when it got into the population. Because this disease is highly contagious before there are any symptoms, a very large percentage of the population will probably catch the disease. The reason for shutting down the country was to slow the spread to avoid overloading the ability of the medical system to care for all the gravely ill patients.

Eliminating this disease is out of the question. By delaying as much of the disease as possible, physicians and scientists hopefully have enough time to identify successful treatment programs (including effective medications). Hopefully hospitals will be able to use treatments with solid science and good statistical verification. If so, hopefully a substantially greater percentage of gravely ill patients will recover as the disease continues to spread. A long-term solution, which experts predict might require 18 months of dedicated work, is to find a hopefully effective vaccination.

Given the challenges, so far the Hebrew Home’s record looks very good. Hopefully this record will continue to look equally good as the challenges continue.

Furloughs at the Pozez JCC

Your article “Wish you were here” (April 23) was a well-deserved tribute to our JCCs. They have labored long and hard, sacrificing substantial revenues to serve their local communities at a time when they are much needed.

I want to single out my own — the Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia — for particular recognition. Sadly, the staff has been furloughed.

The Pozez JCC filed its application for the Payroll Protection Program loan/grant on the first day applications were accepted. Yet the program ran out of money before action could be taken, and the dues the community continued to pay were not sufficient.

The devoted staff are victims of a political process that puts partisan politics above community needs.

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