Spiritual Leader Emily Katcher’s COVID statement

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) issued this statement on August 3: “(The DOH) is concerned about a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations being seen across the state due to the spread of the delta variant. Over the past four days, an average of 1,500 new cases have been reported each day. Hospital occupancy is at the highest levels seen to date in 2021 due to increased COVID-19 transmission, patient demand, and hospital staffing challenges.”

The majority of these hospitalizations are in fact, unvaccinated people. We know that. But what we also know is that vaccinated people can SPREAD the virus, and that the Delta variant spreads far more easily than did the original strain.

Among the unvaccinated are our children under 12 and immunocompromised people.

When our ICU beds are 92% occupied, as they are now in Kitsap County, one or two COVID cases will fill them 100%. If any other medical emergency happens, such as an auto accident or a heart attack, there are no emergency resources for those people.

Already we no longer have the Bremerton ER. We are wholly dependent on the availability of the Silverdale ER, and beyond that, helicopter flights to Harborview.

For these reasons, we will exercise extreme caution in any face to face gathering.

The number of fully vaccinated congregants over 12 who may gather in our building for services will be limited to 10. Beth and I will lead from Beth Hatikvah, and we will of course Zoom.

We may indeed, mostly be fully vaccinated in our community. But Delta exposure has happened in recent days in Kitsap County at another shul, Congregation Kol Shalom. And those who may be carriers, whether they know it or not, are now responsible for bringing that virus to the vulnerable.

Protecting and caring for the vulnerable is what we are commanded to do as Jews.

This includes the vulnerable we don’t think are deserving. This includes the foolish, it includes people we don’t know. It includes us all. We cannot ever prioritize our own desires over this.

Torah teaches us in Bereshit 6:5 that all human beings are inclined to follow their foolish impulses. Even if we strive to master these impulses, not everyone does, or can. We ignore this at our peril.