Roshei Yeshivos and Rabbonim in the Five Towns said Tuesday night that they “strongly advise that all local shuls, yeshivos and schools (including playgroups) remain closed.”
Here is the full text of their message, distributed by local shuls, which emphasizes that “this is our guidance and recommendations at the present time” and that the guidance will be updated as new information is made available. [For updates, visit TheJewishStar.com/category/coronavirus/browse.html.
BS”D • March 17, 2020/ 21 Adar 5780
Lichvod our Wonderful and Special Tzibbur:
Shalom U’vracha and hoping and davening that everyone is managing well in the midst of these trying and challenging times. May HaKB”H send you all tremendous koach and Siyata Dishmaya in all areas, each and every day, and may we merit to share only the very best of news henceforth, Bi’ezras Hashem Yisbarach.
Many local Roshei Yeshivos and Rabbonim have been discussing myriad aspects of the current situation at length over the last few days. In consultation with Gedolei Yisroel in the U.S. (Rav Dovid Feinstein shlit”a; Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky shlit”a; Rav Feivel Cohen shlit”a, and others), as well as with several prominent and reputable doctors and infectious disease experts, we have arrived at the following guidelines.
Please note that the following represents our guidance and recommendations at the present time; we will be discussing the pertinent issues on a regular basis thereafter. We are being updated constantly, and our hadracha and recommendations will reflect the new information after it is scrutinized and thoroughly reviewed.
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING IMPORTANT POINTS:
1) At the present time, we strongly advise that ALL LOCAL SHULS, YESHIVOS, AND SCHOOLS (including playgroups) REMAIN CLOSED. As you can well imagine, we write this with an extremely heavy and broken heart, and it is a decision that we have carefully weighed and analyzed for some time. In light of the current situation — a significant number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the general community thus far r”l, along with MANY individuals awaiting test results — it is a decision reached together with Gedolei HaPoskim, and one that the community must abide by to help stem the current outbreak and save countless lives. For the sake of pikuach nefashos, it is the right decision to be implemented at the current time and is effective immediately. Rav Dovid Feinstein shlit”a — and other Gedolei HaPoskim — have made it very clear that, once the majority of Batei Knei’siyos and Batei Medrashos in a given neighborhood have closed their doors (due to the level of danger determined by the medical experts and professionals in that neighborhood), then ALL other Mosdos HaTorah v’HaTefilla in that neighborhood must close due to “al tifrosh min ha’tzibbur.”
2) Rabbanim are repeatedly being asked regarding Minyanim OUTDOORS (with all safeguards fully in place to ensure minimal risk). Based on our discussion with multiple and diverse experienced doctors and specialists, many Rabbanim have strongly recommended against entering any situation in which contagion could potentially occur; many Poskim (including Rav Shlomo Miller shlit”a) have stated that those who have this concern are not obligated in Tefilla B’Tizbbur under the circumstances. (If one needs to recite Kaddish, please be in touch with your Rav who will gladly assist in making the necessary arrangements for Kaddish to be said via other means.) We have contacted Rav Dovid Feinstein shlit”a who paskened that those individuals who choose to daven in a minyan outdoors may continue to do so (at the current time), but only if they strictly adhere to the following guidelines: the minyan is relatively small (ideally no more than 15); each attendee must keep a distance of at least 6 ft. from the next person; absolutely no one feeling even slightly ill or exhibiting any cold-like symptoms may join; no one who has been in the company of a confirmed case or one who has recently been tested may join; the elderly and immunocompromised individuals must remain at home.
3) The Men’s Mikvah is to currently remain closed. Regarding the Women’s Mikvah, please consult your respective Rav for clear instructions and proper guidelines concerning the preparation for, and the use of, the local Mikva’os.
4) ALL LOCAL RESTAURANTS AND EATING ESTABLISHMENTS ARE CLOSED FOR IN-HOUSE SEATING for the time being. TAKE-OUT FOOD MAY CONTINUE, but customers shall exercise utmost caution in ensuring that only one or two people walk inside for pick-up at a given time. If you see several individuals in an eatery for pick-up of a take-out order, please use your seichel and be patient until others first clear out.
5) ALL LOCAL GYMS (for both men and women) SHALL REMAIN CLOSED AT THE CURRENT TIME.
6) SIMCHAS, CHASUNAHS, etc.: While we strongly recommend that certain simchas be either postponed or greatly diminished (in both size and number), we leave the final decision to the discretion of the ba’alei simcha in conjunction with their respective Rav. Naturally, all must be fully in line with the updated guidelines and parameters set forth by the local and state authorities; any violation thereof involves a likely chillul Hashem as well r”l.
WE ASK THAT YOU ALL CONTINUE TO DAVEN. … Let us together as a Tzibbur increase our kavanah in all our Tefillos, and daven sincerely and with enhanced devotion and intensity, for all those in need to merit a refuah shi’leima bi’karov, and may we all share only besuros tovos in the days and weeks ahead IY”H.
EIN OD MILVADO! CHAZAK V’EMATZ in your Emunah U’Bitachon, and let us do our necessary hishtadlus while relying on the ultimate protection of the true “Shomer Yisroel” Who will bring us the full yeshua bi’karov mamash!
Yehi Ratzon that we continue to learn and daven as best as possible, and be zocheh to Rachamei Shamayim merubim to all stay hale, healthy, and strong, and greet together Mashiach Tzidkeinu BB”A!
With boundless love, deep-felt care, and profound concern for each and every member of this truly special community,
Bi’birchas Kol Tuv tamid mei’omek li’beinu,
Your local Roshei Yeshivos and Rabbonim