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As rates of new infections with Covid-19 in the Tri-State area around Cincinnati surge, three members of the Cincinnati Jewish community who have had the virus agreed to speak to The American Israelite about their experiences. Their shared reaction was one of gratitude.

Rabbi Avrohom Weinrib, Rav of Congregation Zichron Eliezer, and Rafael Zuroff were both deeply grateful that their cases were mild and that they never needed hospitalization. Daniel Pilder’s illness was much more serious; he was the first coronavirus patient at Jewish hospital, where he spent seven weeks, nearly four of them on a ventilator in the ICU. Pilder and Zuroff were both infected in the middle of March as rates of infection were climbing for the first time; Rabbi Weinrib’s bout with the virus was more recent, in mid-June, as rates have been climbing again.

Both Zuroff and Rabbi Weinrib describe their recoveries as complete; the most lasting after-effect for Zuroff was the loss of his senses of taste and smell, which lingered for two months, long after the other symptoms had resolved. Pilder, who was the most seriously ill, also has had the longest recovery. When he was released from the hospital, he needed a wheelchair but with occupational and physical therapy was able to graduate to a walker and then a cane; although he says he is “not back one-hundred percent” yet, he has finished therapy, is able to walk without assistance, and expects to begin work again, from home, in two to three weeks.

All of them expressed deep gratitude for their recoveries. Zuroff noted the silver lining of the quarantine after his illness that his whole family has been together. Rabbi Weinrib wanted to tell readers of the Israelite “Be careful, be cautious. But if G-d chooses you, may it be very mild—thank G-d—like mine was.” Pilder reflected that his brush with death had “sharpened my focus on what’s important in my life—and what’s not” and said that he celebrates “each day, because it’s really a blessing.” Pilder added that “for those who think ‘it’s no big deal,’ I’m here to disabuse them of that.”

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