Rabbis in Bergen County, N.J. have canceled Shabbat, and communal life altogether, in order to help public health officials slow the spread of coronavirus, according to a statement released Thursday.
They have ordered that their community stay home with their immediate families, forbidding any gatherings larger than that. From services in synagogues, to classes in schools, to playdates between children, or even small prayer services in private homes— all have been canceled. Rabbis are even telling their congregants to not host Shabbat meals.
The announcement is the result of a meeting Wednesday night between the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County with public health officials and medical experts, who told them that while the amount of cases is still low, it is increasing. Eight new cases were announced on Wednesday. Even treatable cases of coronavirus will strain the public health system, putting people with other health issues in danger.
“The message from healthcare providers was clear,” the statement read. “They need our help to slow the spread of the disease before their resources are overwhelmed.
Helen Chernikoff is the Forward’s News Editor. She came to the Forward from The Jewish Week, where she served as the first web director and created both a blog dedicated to disability issues and a food and wine website. Before that, she covered the housing, lodging and logistics industries for Reuters, where she could sit at her desk and watch her stories move the stock market. Helen has a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University and a BA in History and French from Amherst College. She is also a rabbinical school dropout. Contact her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @thesimplechild.
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