Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Swine

Swine Flu may be off the front pages, but it is on the front burner of conversation at camps everwhere - even kosher ones! When we dropped Dan off at Camp Ramah in New England two weeks ago, we were greeted by a nurse at the gate, who calmly walked over to our car and took everyone's temperature.

Everyone. The parents too. Just walked over, said shalom and stuck a thermometer in my ear.

The world has gone germ crazy. I've written about the impact of Purell on our culture (Losing Touch with Touching) and how this obsession relates to the purity laws, which are Judaism’s way of acknowledging that fear of the invisible and channeling it into life-affirming action.

Public officials now tell us that advertisers cashing in on a newly germ-phobic world may be doing more harm than good. The Swine scare is even leading to travel phobia.

I commend my son's camp for taking all precautions. It's the responsible thing to do. But in the end, the germs will always find a way. Despite all best efforts, since camp started, they have had a total of 31 cases, all of them relatively mild. Like Miriam with leprosy, most of them spent the required seven days outside of camp. Most went home to recuperate. By today, 19 of these campers or staff members will have returned to their bunks and the full camp program after having completed their seven days of separation, consistent with CDC protocol and the advice of local health authorities.

The good news: Dan spent the past week on an outward bound expedition, getting drenched to the bone, but far away from other people - and their germs.

And my temperature was normal.

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