North Jersey Orthodox rabbis close shuls, schools, Shabbat guests

North Jersey Orthodox rabbis close shuls, schools, Shabbat guests

Say measures necessary to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed

The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County called for a complete shut-down on social contact within the Jewish community.

After meeting with representatives of local governments and three local hospitals, the group – the local association of Orthodox rabbis — issued a letter on Thursday calling for total social distancing.

“We must all try our best to stay home with only our immediate family for now and to avoid unnecessary contact with others, and particularly with substantial groups,” the RCBC wrote. “Please daven at home, individually.”

Synagogues should cancel services and classes, the rabbinic group said.

“There should be no public celebrations” for occasions like weddings and bar and bat mitzvah parties, and “People should not have gatherings for Shabbat meals.” Even “shiva visits should be replaced by phone/video calls.” That’s because “slowing the spread of the disease will allow our hospitals to best manage this situation.”

The letter concluded: “These measures are adopted as a reflection of our overarching commitment to the sanctity of human life, and we pray that these will be very temporary measures. Please take these days as a critical opportunity to intensify our tefilot” — prayers — “to the Rofeh Ne’eman” — True Healer, that is, God — “that all those ill will be healed and that our community will be shielded from any further harm.”