Opinion: Why You Should Consider Bringing Your Child Home Now | Avi Gutfreund

I took the drastic measure yesterday to bring my son home early for Pesach. He is studying at a prestigious yeshiva in Yerushalayim, and I would prefer that he be able to remain and continue his learning unabated for several more weeks before flying back to the US. But the coronavirus changed those plans.

The decision I made is not out of fear or panic; it is rooted deeply in pragmatism and viewing what is going on with the coronavirus in the United States and Israel with a critical eye.

What we are witnessing with this illness is a global pandemic. The virus has sickened more than 100,000 individuals and has killed about 4,000. Does that mean we should panic? No, of course not. The regular flu kills an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States alone each year. And while the death rate from coronavirus appears to be at least slightly higher than the flu, the coronavirus is, at least for now, a lesser threat than the flu. So concern over becoming infected with the coronavirus is not a reason to bring students home early. Additionally, bringing a child home because coronavirus is spreading wouldn’t make much sense because, at the moment, it appears to be spreading more quickly in the United States than in Israel. If anything, students are less likely to become infected with the virus if they remain in Israel.

Instead, the reason why my son is coming home early is because there is a very real possibility that flights between the United States and Israel will be completely shut down. Israel is now expected to announce that travelers coming to the country from anywhere in the world, including the United States, would have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine. That has not officially been announced yet, but they are still considering it and it is likely that even if that regulation isn’t implemented, they will put in some others.

Any massive change in regulations for visitors to Israel will cause the number of passengers flying on planes from the US to Israel to drop dramatically. And because airlines depend on there being passengers on both legs (to and from) of an international trip, a lack of passengers flying from the US to Israel will probably force airline officials to stop flying to the US at all, or at least cancel many of the currently scheduled flights. If that happens within the next few weeks, thousands of American boys and girls will become stranded in Israel indefinitely and will not be with their families for Pesach.

To top it all off, I have been told by reliable sources that several religious leaders – Litvish and Chasidish – have begun urging their American followers to fly home immediately so that they may be with their families for Pesach.

All of the above is why my son is taking the flight home.

Should you change your son’s or daughter’s travel plans? I am not in a position to tell you what to do. All I can do is give my position and perspective on the matter. The rest is up to you.

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  1. Death rate from corona isn’t “slightly higher” than the flu. It’s almost 25x higher. Corona mortality rate hovers around 3-4% while flu death rate last year was 0.12% . 41 million sickened by the flu with 57,000 deaths means 1/8 of 1% of those with the flu died. Corona is 3% which means if 41 million got corona we would see around 1.2 million deaths

    • most cases of coronal virus sickness are not documented. The person has a slight fever, with some symptoms, stays home and bezras h’ recovers. The high death rate is only people who are so sick that they go to the dr or may be hospitalized, and they get tested.

      the actual death rate is much lower, more like regular flu.

  2. I’m not in this position so can’t completely relate. However, 2 points to consider:
    Why is it end of the world if a bachur or sem girl stays in Israel for Pesach? Just the opposite, it’s a wonderful experience and enhances the year, not takes away from it. Especially girls who will be going home a few weeks later. I stayed in Israel for pesach during my sem year and was the highlight of my year!
    Also, there was a video of bachur asking R Chaim shlita if he should go home now or stay until end of zman and he was told to stay.

  3. R Chaim Kanievsky was asked if boys should leave home early. His response was they should stay in Yeshiva and learn. I’m going to go against that….

    • Imagine a Police officer gave you a ticket and you went to court to fight it.
      The judge decided not to listen to your side of the story, instead he chose to read a few different articles that he found on the internet and based on those articles, he came to a conclusion that you were wrong and now you have to pay for that ticket.
      In the merit of giving people the benefit of the doubt, may the Almighty remove from us this new virus.

  4. Stop. Please stop comparing this to the flu. It wouldn’t be a pandemic if it was the flu. The market doesn’t lose 1,600 points when the flu comes out. Apple doesn’t stop producing iPhones when there’s a flu. Corona Virus is MUCH more catchy than the flu.
    Enjoy your son. Just keep in mind, unless he has serious chavrusos and serious sedarim now, when he starts the zman again Rosh Chodesh Iyar, he will be finishing a 7 week bain hazmanim. It might take him a long time to get back into it. Some boys never get quite back into it as before.

  5. I am not in a position to tell you what to do. All I can do is give my position and perspective on the matter. The rest is up to you.
    If your not in a position to tell people what to do (& INDEED UOU ARE NOT IN SUCH A POSITION) then why are telling us what you are doing??? Who cares. We have whom to ask for hadracha. Reb chaim feels different then you (& its on video!!!) so keep your feelings and opinion ions to yourself

  6. What difference does it make which yeshiva your son goes to? “Prestigious” yeshiva? Sounds like you only sent him there so that you can say he is learning in a “prestigious” yeshiva. Did you ask his rosh yeshiva if he should come home early? Wasn’t this rosh yeshiva Prestigious, and you can rely on his advice? So what did the rosh yeshiva advise you to do?

  7. I also struggle sonetimes with whether or not I made the right decision. However, I don’t feel the need to justify every decision by writing a letter looking for others to concur with me.
    Can the author also give the exact specifications of his Shalach Monos? I don’t want to look like a Goy by doing less than him, or look like a Baal Gaavah by doing more.

  8. Your son came home before Purim out of concern that all flights will be grounded between Israel & the US. A) This seems highly unlikely, shomer psoim Hashem. b) Is a boy sitting out of yeshiva for 6 weeks a healthy situation? no, it’s not. C) Him remaining in EY for pesach is not the end of the world.
    Bad decision to bring him home early.

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