Dan Levin (FL): ‘People Can Die from More than a Virus’
Daniel Levin (50), a Democrat from Boca Raton, FL, is a past president of the southeast region of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and served as a member of the Reform Movement’s Think Tank, a group focused on planning the movement’s future. He has also served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
What do you think about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic?
The federal response has lacked clarity, direction and responsiveness. It is terribly frustrating to know that the administration ignored the early warnings of our own intelligence agencies who raised the alarm early and often. I found the president’s early politicization of the crisis to be repugnant, and his inability to tell the truth deeply worrisome. At the same time, I am grateful for the leadership of career experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, for their measured truth-telling.
What do you think about the response in your state/community?
I wish our state leadership had been more forceful in calling for social distancing and closing public facilities earlier to mitigate the spread of the virus. I am grateful for local leaders who have endeavored to be responsive and responsible.
Has the threat from the virus been overblown or has it not been taken seriously enough?
The threat from the virus has not been overblown, though I think it has been hard to digest the rapid changes we have been forced to accept. I have been deeply troubled by those who subscribe to conspiracy theories or who selfishly ignore the demands to separate. In my community, I saw that hundreds of people had “rafted up” their boats on the weekend and were mingling with each other. That ignorance will only prolong the peril.
What measures have you taken in your own life to protect yourself and others from the virus?
We are practicing social distancing and our synagogue has called on its members to practice the same. We have quickly worked hard to transform our congregation into a “Virtual Synagogue” by providing opportunities for people to gather to find support from one another and guidance from our clergy team. We have connected with our members by live-streaming our Shabbat services and are conducting pre-school, religious school, and adult education classes by ZOOM.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I think what we need to realize is that people can die from more than a virus. People can die from unemployment, bankruptcy and from impoverishment. It will be necessary for our nation’s leaders to quickly create a plan for us to do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus while simultaneously bringing our economic and civic life back from this forced period of hibernation. What I hope we are all learning from this crisis is that it is vital and necessary for our national government to cultivate expertise and truth-tellers to guide us. It may feel good to say, “Let’s blow it all up!” But when you blow things up, you’re left with rubble and debris, and without talented builders and who can recreate a better structure, all you have is chaos and ruin. I am hopeful that our country’s next leaders will restore the respect for experience and expertise that has been destroyed in recent years.