—Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, Director of Meaningful Life

Good Afternoon Jewish Home Manhattan

Today is Thursday, May 21st. 

Some days are easy. Others test us. Today is a day that really tests us. And by that I mean, today is the day when all staff begins being literally tested for COVID-19—twice a week—to ensure that our workforce stays as healthy as possible while we provide loving care to all those who live at The New Jewish Home.

I have always heard it said that “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” It turns out there is an exception that says: You can if the governor asks you to do it twice a week in the name of public health.

Well, I never expected the chief executive of the state to insist that I pick my nose but, the truth is, I’m willing to do it. First of all, it’s under sanitary conditions with a sterile cotton swab. But more importantly, it’s just the right thing to do. The starting point of all medical ethics is “Do no harm.” And we each have a deep ethical obligation to ensure that in our care we don’t unwittingly hurt other people, especially those who are particularly vulnerable.

It’s for this same reason that we have gotten used to masks and, when needed, gloves and gowns and shields. Whatever it takes to keep people safe. It’s why we are all even more expert than we used to be at handwashing, and at opening the restroom door with the same towel we used to turn off the faucet. It takes dedication and some practice.

You may think of these as “infection control procedures” and “best clinical practices.” But they are also tangible expressions of care and manifestations of our ethical duties. We may tell someone in words, “I love you.” But in this time and this moment, this is how we show that love — by putting a cotton swab in our noses twice a week.

Ok, it’s not the usual Valentine’s day gift. But if that’s how you’ll know that I love you, pass me the Q-Tip.

At the Jewish Home, we are not going to lose this battle. On the contrary, we are going to win it. 

And today, we are going to win it…by a nose. 🙂

I’ll Have To Say I Love You in a Song (Jim Croce)