Rabbi Yosie Levine of the Jewish Center in Manhattan at 131 West 86th Street, one of America’s premier Orthodox synagogues and Modern Orthodox congregations, sent an email to the members of his congregation, regarding a confirmed case of the coronavirus at their synagogue:
“We have confirmed that an attendee of the Young Leadership minyanim this past Shabbat tested positive for coronavirus,” Rabbi Levine reported. “The individual attended the Young Leadership Kabbalat Shabbat on the 5th floor on Friday night, March 5, and was at the March 6th Young Leadership Shabbat morning minyan in the Auditorium on the 1st floor from approximately 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. We send our wishes for a full and speedy recovery to this individual.”
Downtown, the Stanton Street Shul, which is currently between rabbis, emailed its members, saying: “Out of an abundance of caution, and a particular effort to protect the most vulnerable members of our community, we are canceling services this Shabbat and encouraging community members to pray at home. As we all navigate this unprecedented situation and seek to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, we will be evaluating on a weekly basis whether to hold services at Stanton. Thank you for your patience and cooperation. If anyone would like assistance from the Stanton community during this challenging time, please email the shul.”
The Stanton Street Shul had to postpone its Shabbat Telamdeni with Maharat Emily Goldberg Winer, and disappointed a member of the congregation who was sponsoring kiddush in honor of his mother’s yahrzeit. The neshama should have an aliyah.
Rabbi Yosie Levine told his congregants that following consultations with the New York State Department of Health and discussions with the leadership of other local Manhattan synagogues, “we have decided to close our building and suspend all shul functions – including minyanim – until further notice. Many of our sister synagogues are doing the same. This decision does not come lightly. While shuls are meant to be open every day of the year, safeguarding the health of our community is an even higher priority and we must do everything within our power to protect our members and our community. We hope this extraordinary and unprecedented measure will slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.”
He urged members and friends to follow the directives adopted in Bergen County, NJ:
1. All community members are strongly encouraged to work from home, if possible, and to stay home whenever possible.
2. Our members should not attend other minyanim and not form private minyanim in households. This will undermine our communal effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
3. There should be no public celebrations or smachot.
4. People should not have gatherings for Shabbat meals.
5. Shivah visits should be conducted by telephone or video calls.
6. Funerals should be restricted to a small group of family members and a minyan.
7. While the Mikvah will remain open, women under mandatory quarantine or who are experiencing symptoms may not use the mikvah. Of course people should always feel free to call with questions.
Anyone who needs to pick up his tallit and tefillin can do so during normal business hours on Thursday or Friday.
Those saying Kaddish should arrange to have someone say Kaddish on their behalf in places where minyanim are still being held, and the shul would help facilitate it.