Photo Credit: Yechezkel Itkin / Chabad Lubavitch HQ / FB
Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in front of 770 Eastern Parkway, World Lubavitch HQ, (archive)

The senior rabbis of the Crown Heights Beis Din Tzedek have called on the public – guests who would normally have flocked to visit the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic enclave in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn – asking that people please respect their request NOT visit their neighborhood for the time being, instead.

Crown Heights — location of 770 Eastern Parkway, the World Headquarters for the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement — has been a magnet for decades for Jews who are searching for Jewish meaning in their lives.

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It has long been a tradition for the Jewish families of the neighborhood to welcome guests into their homes during special days on the Chassidic calendar and Jewish holidays during the year, among them “Gimmel Tammuz,” the upcoming anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, o.b.m.

Many of those guests are extended family members of the neighborhood residents who have either moved away, are away on shlichus (working as emissaries) or are currently away at school.

To get an idea of the numbers this involves, consider this: there are approximately 5,000 emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe worldwide. That figure does not include their spouses – who are co-directors of their Jewish centers – and however many children they may have, who obviously accompany them when they travel to Crown Heights.

Letter banning visitors to Crown Heights for “the forseeable future” due to coronavirus

“At this time we do not regard air travel as safe for anyone except the lowest risk individuals on essential business,” the rabbis wrote in their letter.

“Susceptible individuals who travel outside the community are at risk of becoming ill in a setting where cases are still prevalent. Thus when they return to Crown Heights they should continue to separate themselves from vulnerable others, and monitor themselves closely, immediately reporting any suspicious symptoms.

“Particularly concerning are those traveling to Crown Heights, who may not have had the virus and who live elsewhere in places where there may still be sporadic cases occurring, and who are inadvertently carrying the illness with them.

“In order for all the members of our community (including the vulnerable) to attempt a cautious return to socialization, we must ask those intending to visit Crown Heights to postpone their trips for the forseeable future. This might not work out with your plans, but it is for our protection. Thank you in advance for being considerate.”

The letter is signed by Rabbi Avraham Osdoba, member Badatz Crown Heights, Rabbi Yosef Yeshayahu Braun, member Badatz Crown Heights. (Badatz stands for Beis Din Tzedek) and The Gedaliah Society, a network of Chabad men and women in the healthcare fields, in conjunction with Dr. Eli Rosen.

The letter, circulated throughout the thousands-strong Chabad-Lubavitch community, was also published by Chabad-Lubavitch news outlets as well.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.