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Coronavirus

BDJ, and all its events, are closed until further notice.  Please see note below for further information.  We will continue to update this page as we have relevant information.  

  • Connecting Online:  Join us online for our regular weekly classes, special shiurim, our daily Zoom chat check in and Tefilla Together.  For the latest schedule, click here.
  • Community Conversations: Community and Faith Based team at the Red Cross LA is hosting monthly Community Conversation panels. June’s topic is Compassionate Care in COVID-19, where we’ll be discussing grief and the shift of funerary services during COVID-19, and how faith leaders can be involved. Email faithbasedla@redcross.org to be put on our mailing list for these events.
  • Mikvah: For the latest mikvah guidelines, please visit the LA Mikvah website.  For any questions, please contact Rav Yosef or Rabbanit Alissa.
  • Mental Health Resources: please visit our Mental Health page to learn more about resources in the community.  We will continue updating it as we find relevant resources.
  • Testing: LA county's testing centers will only accept individuals with prior appointments. Sign up info is available here.  
  • Wifi Access:  Spectrum will offer free access to internet and WiFi for 60-days for new Pre-K to 12, college student and teacher households who don't currently have internet or WiFi service. For details, please call (855) 243-8892 to sign up for this offer. For details, click here
  • DHS Info: To view  information from the Department of Health Services, including projections that show the current public health measures are working to not over-tax our health care system, click here
  • Food Delivery for Seniors: If you are aged 60 or older, have a permanent or temporary disability, or are a dependent adult aged 18-59, you may qualify for delivery services of groceries or other essential items. Click here for more info. 
  • Red Cross: Volunteer for Red Cross Feeding, Grab & Go,  and/or Blood Donation. See Maps of Grab & Go (ongoing until June 12th) sites here. 
  • Resources for the Unhoused: The YMCA is set to open up nine facilities across Los Angeles for folks experiencing homelessness to use their showers and restrooms. For more info, see the Y's website here

Update: Monday, March 17, 2020

Jewish Law is built upon principles of likelihood and probability. For example, if there are three indistinguishable pieces of meat in front of you, two of which come from a kosher source and one which does not, you may take and eat one of them, for the probability is that it is kosher. The wife of a kohen may continue to eat terumah (which only a kohen and his family may eat) even when her husband is incommunicado while on an extended overseas trip. She does so based on the assumption that her kohen husband is still alive, because of the halakhic principle that we assume the last known status quo until we know definitely that this status quo has changed. Likelihoods and probabilities determine Jewish Law.

The vitally important letter below, drafted by the rabbinic leadership of our community, abandons these principles of likelihood and probability. It proscribes very stringent measures regarding staying at home and limiting in-person social interaction to only essential minimums. It clearly proscribes interactions which have only small likelihoods of effecting transmission, and reasonable probabilities of being safe. The basis for this is the revered halakhic principle that חמירא סכנתא מאיסורא - we treat danger more stringently than we treat prohibitions. A drop of milk is "batel" if it is only 1/60th of a meat mixture, but poison is never "batel".

The rigorous standards set in the letter below are operating in the realm of סכנתא - danger to health and life. As we've all heard, we've each got to everything we can, including avoiding setting in which transmission might be considered improbable - when we are facing the prospect of contagion expanding exponentially as it has done in other countries and US cities, which would indisputably threaten the lives of our fellow Angelinos. Our hospitals are simply not ready for an explosion of cases, health workers will be unable to handle such a load, and people will die as a result. Life and death is in our hands, and our Halakhic responsibility is to recognize that and take it seriously.

This will be a difficult and austere period of time... Please escape feelings of hopelessness by being a source of hope to others in your immediate sphere. Please take advantage of our on-line learning and chatting and davening. And most of all, let's all remember to be thankful. Gratitude may be the farthest emotion from our hearts in this moment. I can't think of a more appropriate moment for feeling grateful, for our community and family and friends, for modern medicine and responsible government and our general abundance (despite some empty shelves at this second). We should make a special point of including Mizmor L'Todah (Psalm 100) in Shacharit each morning. There is heightened poignancy and power these days to remembering that we have so much to be thankful for, that we are blessed in myriad, countless ways.

Rav Yosef Kanefsky
Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn

Dear Fellow Community Members,

Over the last several days we have been hearing urgent messages from our elected officials and Department of Health representatives asking us to eliminate communal gatherings and to minimize in-person contact to the greatest degree possible. This is the best and surest way to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in our city. It will literally save lives and will prevent our local hospitals from becoming overwhelmed to the point of having to turn patients away.

This is the reason that we the undersigned have made the unprecedented decision to close our shuls and schools. It is vitally important, and a matter of Pikuah Nefesh, life and death, that everyone in our community abide by the following policies.

In order to receive professional guidance for the community, we held a conference call this afternoon with Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt of New York, an infectious disease expert and an Assistant Rabbi at the Young Israel of Woodmere, and Dr. Rick Riggs, Chief Medical Officer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in charge of overseeing Cedar's response to the Coronavirus. Considering our discussion with the doctors we the undersigned strongly recommend the following policies to be instituted immediately:

  1. Our shuls and schools will remain closed until further notice, when we are informed by the health officials that it is no longer a danger and we may resume our regular schedules. Until that time, every person should daven at home. There should be no house or backyard Minyanim since they undermine efforts to minimize the spread of the virus.
  2. We should all add Avinu Malkeinu at both Shachrit and Mincha until further notice. It should not be added on Friday afternoons or on a day when Tachanun is not said.
  3. All members of our community should minimize in-person contact with anyone outside of their immediate families. If you can work from home, please do so.Visits even among families should also be limited. Communication with parents and grandparents who are not living in your home should be virtual whenever possible.
  4. Although it is challenging in the absence of school, there should be no playdates or friend get togethers.One may play in the yard and go for a run, but it should not be with friends or with children of friends. We encourage people to go outside, but to stay distanced from other people even when outdoors.
  5. As social distancing continues, we should plan to have our Shabbat, Yom Tov and Sedarim without guests.
  6. "Shiva visits" should be made by phone or facetime.
  7. Support our Kosher restaurants by ordering out from the restaurants. Avoid eating in the confined spaces of restaurants which can lead to greater transmission.
  8. Only one person per household should go to the Supermarket. Children should not go to the store and people should not be socializing while in the store.
  9. Any person who has had exposure (defined as being within 6-8 feet for a period of 10 minutes or more) to someone who has testedpositive should immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. People without any symptoms who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient should not at this time seek medical attention or seek to get tested. They should self-quarantine. Please note that while the official DoH position requires quarantine after exposure only if the person has begun to have symptoms, we strongly advise to err on the side of caution based on the advice of the aforementioned two physicians.

10) Call your doctor if you start to have symptoms (increased congestion, coughing or fevers). Seek emergency medical treatment if you have difficulty breathing, but please do not go to the emergency room if you do not need emergency care.

Call ahead if possible and advise health care workers of possible exposure to COVID-19. Ask for a facemask as you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider's office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.

11) For a COVID-19 test enter your zip code to find out the nearest COVID-19 test site. (from US HRSA.gov website) https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/ Go to clinics instead of crowded large facilities. (Testing and Treatments are free.)

12) Any member of our community who has tested positive must immediately inform family and friends (or any acquaintances if applicable) who may have been exposed to him or her. This includes informing your rabbi or head of school.

13) We call on all of our community members and institutions to create formal systems and mechanisms by which people who are in need of assistance and people who can volunteer to provide assistance, are connected with one another. We encourage also helping the general public by donating to community charities of your choice. Please also remember to generously support Maot Chittim campaigns.

During these most challenging times when we all pray that Hashem accept our Tefilot, we encourage everyone to daven with exceptional Kavanah even though we are not meeting in our shuls for Tefilah B'Tzibur. We also ask you to set time for learning Torah and for doing Chessed. Each shul and school will be in contact with their members and students sharing their Torah Shiurim and Chessed opportunities that we all should join.

With Brakhot of good health and safety,

Rabbi David Block, Shalhevet High School

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, Pico Shul

Rabbi Asher Brander, LINK Kollel

Rabbi Daniel Cavalier, Young Sephardic Community Center

Rabbi Pini Dunner, Beverly Hills Synagogue

Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Yeshivat Yavneh

Rabbi Daniel Grama, West Side Shul

Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, Orthodox Union West Coast

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, Bnai David Judea

Rabbi Yehuda Moses, Kehilat Mogen David

Rabbi Elazar Muskin, Young Israel of Century City

Rabbi Adir Posy, Beth Jacob Congregation

Rabbi James Proops, Young Israel of Century City

Rabbi David Revah, Adas Torah

Rabbi Ari Segal, Shalhevet High School

Rabbi Joshua Spodek, YULA Girls

Rabbi Arye Sufrin, YULA Boys High School

Rabbi Y. Boruch Sufrin, Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy

Rabbi Kalman Topp, Beth Jacob Congregation

Rabbi Jason Weiner, Cedars Sinai Medical Center

Rabbi Aaron Wilk, Gindi Maimonides Academy

Response to Coronavirus COVID-19

Friends,

I'd like to take half a minute to reflect on the human, religious dimension of this present hour. One of the brand new terms that has entered our daily conversation is "social distancing". It is shorthand, as we know very well, for the practical physical precautions that we all need to and must take in order to protect ourselves and others. I'd humbly suggest though, that we use the term itself sparingly, if at all. Language is a powerful shaper of thinking. And the very last thing we need right now, is a mindset of mutual distancing. We actually need to be thinking in the exact opposite way. Every hand that we don't shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise. It is obvious that "distancing", if misplaced or misunderstood, will take its toll not only upon our community's strength and resiliency, but upon the very integrity and meaning of our spiritual commitment. And who knows if it was for this time that we have committed ourselves to walk in God's ways.

Let's stay safe. And let's draw one another closer in a way that we've never done before.

Rav Yosef

Wed, June 3 2020 11 Sivan 5780