Sunday, December 27, 2020

A False Sense of Entitlement

ParCare CEO, Gary Schlesinger (Jewish Press)
I don’t think there is anyone more excited about getting the COVID vaccine than I am. I literally can’t wait. Like many others, I am sick and tired of all the mitigation requirements.  And just like all Americans, I want to be able to once again live like a human being in a society of human beings. 

I want to be able to go out of my house without worrying about getting sick. I want to be able to go  back to all the Minyanim I have attended without being upset at someone not wearing a mask. I want to be able to attend weddings again; eat out in restaurants again; and travel without worry or quarantines. 

I want to be able invite friends and family over for a Shabbos or Yom Tov meal; have backyard barbeques; and hug my children and grandchildren again. 

I want normal. I crave normal. Before COVID - never would I have thought that craving to be normal would be something to think about.  Like everyone else, I took normal for granted. 

Alas, I have not been scheduled to get vaccinated yet. There are people ahead of me in line. Which I fully support. Medical staff on the front lines, nursing home residents, people with underlying conditions, and essential workers should come first. But I admit being somewhat disappointed that the CDC has recommended the cutoff for the next tier of vaccinations should be 75 years of age and older. Unless Illinois has its own cutoff at a lower age, then at 74 I will have to wait a bit longer. 

I’m sure I am not alone. Aside from the anti-vaxxer crowd, I’m sure that the vast majority of people feel the same way I do. We all want to get vaccinated as soon as possible and get all this over with once and for all as soon as possible. 

And that makes vaccinations subject to possible fraud. Where there is a big demand and short supply there will always be someone wiling to cut corners to fill the demand. It might be for money. Or it might be to get one’s community immunized ahead of everyone else. Which leads me to the following. 

The New York Post and the Jewish Press are both reporting the story. This is from the Post: 

A health-care network with clinics in Boro Park, Bensonhurst and Williamsburg is under a criminal investigation for giving unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines, officials said Saturday. 

ParCare Community Health Network “may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public,” 

The network’s actions appear to violate the state’s plan to administer the limited supply of vaccines first to frontline healthcare workers, along with nursing home residents and staffers…The state controls where, and to whom, the vaccine is distributed — and there isn’t enough for those who are supposed to be at the front of the line. 

If these accusations are found to be true, this is yet another major Chilul HaShem by  - you guessed it, a Chasidic Jew. 

ParCare owner, Gary Schlesinger claims that he has been following state guidelines and vaccinating only those that are supposed to be vaccinated. But one of my sources whose relatives live in one of those neighborhoods told him they have already been vaccinated. They are not in any of the categories that are supposed to be first in line. 

I hope that the investigation clears him. And that his clinics were actually given those vials of vaccine legitimately - and that he is following the guidelines just as he claims. And that my source is wrong. 

But even as I want to give Schlesinger the benefit of the doubt, his claims seem to be a bit fishy in light of the investigations and what one of my sources tells me.  As I said – if true, it is yet another in a long line of activities by people in this community that ends up a Chill HaShem. 

And as I have said many times in the past about similar situations, I wish I could say I’m surprised. But I would be lying if I said that there aren’t Orthodox Jews among us that have a sense of entitlement that motivates them to skirt the law - or outright break it in service to that sense. 

I hear it all the time in cases of getting federal or state financial aid to their people. The typical line goes something like this. ‘Why shouldn’t we get the same benefits that an unwed mother in the ghetto gets? Are we not as deserving as she is? 

What they really mean is, ‘Aren’t we far more deserving than the single mother who got herself pregnant without even knowing which one of her many sex partners is the father?!’ ‘None of whom have stuck around?’ ‘So what if we game the system to our advantage?!’ ‘So what, if we stretch the truth a little so that we can support our families a little easier.’ ‘We are so much more deserving!’ 

The same kind of logic might be behind obtaining these vaccines illegally. ‘Why shouldn’t we save our own lives first?!’  ‘Are we not a holy people?’ ‘Why should a ‘Prosteh Goy’ (a low life non Jew) get the vaccine first?!’ 

Like I said - I don’t know if this guy is innocent or guilty. I hope he is as pure as the driven snow and is completely exonerated. If that happens I will be the first to congratulate him for his dedication. But – as I have said - so many times about situations like this, I am not going to hold my breath.