by Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg
Having just listened to an excerpt of Jared Kushner's remarks from his Tuesday morning (9/15/20) Today Show interview and read a portion of the article about it in Vanity Fair Magazine, I find myself feeling a mixture of anger and shock. Kushner was responding to questions by Savannah Guthrie regarding his father in law, Donald Trump's now published admissions to journalist Bob Woodward that he knew about the dangers of the coronavirus in February, how deadly it was, but intentionally misled the country,
claiming that it was under control, that he was managing the government's response to it and that it would soon "magically"
For months it was known that these assertions were false, that the President had no plan to deal with this plague, and that, if anything, it was growing, and with each passing week, tens of thousands of Americans were needlessly dying at the rate of 1,000 a day. It was overwhelming to hear Kushner admit that Mr. Trump actively deceived the country, telling it that it "had nothing to worry about."
Kushner defended this irresponsibility, without the slightest expression of shame, guilt or apology.
He then said that the country should " thank it's lucky stars" that it had a guy like Donald Trump in charge, "an entrepreneurial businessman who does not approach things in a bureaucratic way." Most outrageous, was his criticism of the governors and the media.
which he called "hysterical" over the deaths of more than 190,000 of our citizens.
President Trump continues to hold indoor rallies in which most attendees do not wear masks or practice social distancing, both of which are called for by his own CDC guidelines, while Kusher attacked the media for "imposing its own freaky rules." 'Trump believes that people can make their own decision," he said. To me Mr. Kushner's remarks are sad and painful. They reflect an immoral disconnect and a disregard for human life. The almost 200,000 of Americans who have died represent how many hundreds of thousands of others, parents, spouses, siblings, children, extended family members, friends and coworkers? How many are suffering these losses? How many more can we tolerate and excuse?
As we Jews begin the High Holy Days our liturgy calls out to us. Our prayers challenge us to analyze our lives, to review our intentions, our thoughts and our deeds. Only if we do that, and take responsibility for them, can we hope to begin the process of Teshuva
(Repentance) , religious and moral transformation, leading to a world of justice, mercy, honesty, compassion, holiness and wholeness which are the foundation of Salvation to which we all aspire. We must demand moral leadership and be exemplars of what we demand.