One of the delights of being married to my husband is the fascinating people I get to meet. His interests and efforts attract a wide variety of individuals and we have forged many friendships with those who, in a more routine life, we might never get to meet.
So it was, while COVID-19 was still limiting many relationships, we had the opportunity to host a few Amish families from the Lancaster area for a Shabbat meal. We had much in common and interesting differences to explore. Many of our views meshed on family, community, education, and marriage. It was an invigorating evening.
One of the most surprising discoveries we made was that the Amish community to which these families belonged had pretty much ignored COVID-19. They did not vaccinate. Their worship meetings continued; their families kept socializing. They even drank from a communal cup. Our guests did not know of any serious, negative effects of these activities.
Accordingly, I wasn’t surprised when I heard that a man testified before the Pennsylvania State Senate that the local Amish death rate from the pandemic was considerably lower than the rest of the country. As in so many other areas where the Amish choose to live in ways that are at variance with general American culture, this makes them an interesting group to study. I also found articles attempting to strenuously rebut this gentleman’s claim, but actually not doing so. Those articles spoke of suspected rates of infection, not of deaths.
I am not a researcher, an actuary, or a statistician. If we could trust doctors, scientists, and the government, discovering the truth would be both fascinating and beneficial for future public health. As things stand today, I’m not holding my breath.
We have just celebrated the 247th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America. E pluribus unum — out of many, one — is the traditional motto of the nation. Yet, the founding citizens debated and understood the need for individual states rather than forming one large country. After the Civil War, for understandable reasons, what used to be commonly referred to as ‘these United States’ became ‘the United States.’ That push to federalism has continued and technological advances have set the course on steroids.
With local newspapers disappearing and all news disseminating from fewer and fewer sources, with a heavy-handed government grabbing power, and with diminishing pockets of independent thinking, we have come a long way from the early days of the United States. I am grateful for the various Amish communities and other groups who swim upstream, as they reject the idea that being one country means thinking and acting with only one uncritical and unquestioning mind.
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America’s Real War
In America’s Real War, Rabbi Daniel Lapin argues that the real chasm in American culture is not between blacks and whites, rich and poor, men and women, or Jews and Christians.
The real divide is between those Americans who believe that Judeo-Christian Bible-based values are vital for our nation’s survival and those Americans who believe that these timeless truths obstruct progress.