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April 1, 2020 7:31 am
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A Jewish Tale of Surviving Coronavirus

avatar by Alan Zeitlin

Opinion

A medical worker wearing a protective mask and suit treats patients suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po hospital in Cremona, Italy, March 19, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Flavio Lo Scalzo.

Eli Schwebel, 40, a well-known Jewish singer from Brooklyn, worked hard to lose more than 150 pounds and was able to do 10k runs in recent months.

“My lungs were in the best shape of my life,” he said.

But on Friday night, March 20, at NYU Langone Medical Center, doctors told him something harrowing.

“Your lungs are black from top to bottom,” he recounted them saying.

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He was preparing to die, as he was breathing heavy — even with oxygen. He was told that in addition to having the coronavirus, he’d gotten the flu, a staph infection, and pneumonia.

“It was like aliens were inside me,” he said. “I think I got it from Purim — I went to four parties. [The virus] was not yet part of the zeitgeist. We didn’t really know yet here. Israel was very smart. I wish the community leaders here would have cancelled Purim. It could have saved lives.”

While in the hospital, of course, he could not have family members around.

“I figured, I’ve done some great music, I have a great family, I’m preparing to die.”

But the leader of the popular Jewish music group Lev Tahor pushed on. “I was screaming in pain,” he said.

The symptoms of coronavirus came on, and then came on strong.

“It went from 0-30-60-500,” he said.

“The people in my ambulance were shocked that I was discharged. Most have not been discharged. They are still there.”

He said he’s heard that there are people in the park running with each other and even still playing sports, in violation of social distancing rules.

“Please don’t do it,” he said. “All those people should see themselves as walking with an AK-47 randomly shooting people.”

“It was the toughest battle, and thank God, I made it through,” he said. “I’m feeling a lot better now.”

He may even make a song about his recovery, and he said he is praying for all those who are suffering around America, Israel, and the world.

Alan Zeitlin’s articles have appeared in The Journal News, The Jewish Week, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and other publications.

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