Best Synagogue Guidelines and Practices in Light of the Coronavirus


Dear Friends,

We continue to monitor the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic with concern. As a religious community, the primacy of life is a value above all others and we must take the proper precautions to “flatten the curve”- ensure that the virus spreads as minimally as possible, and that our healthcare system is less severely overtaxed than it is in other locations. We can do this by acting proactively. At this time, we have been advised by infectious disease physicians and the local CDC that services may continue, but we are adopting the following practices in all our congregations:

1.  We will be strictly adhering to the protocols set forth by the CDC regarding hygiene, particularly handwashing (see here for a guide on how to wash hands properly).

2. While we will be hosting services, we will  adhere as best as possible to social distancing guidelines. People should keep distance from one another in shul and should not congregate after services, which will be expeditious and finish earlier.

3. Avoiding close physical contact with people who are sick. If you or your children are sick or demonstrating any kind of symptoms of illness, you or they MAY NOT come to shul.  Our policy discouraging handshaking continues to be in place.

4. We advise those who have traveled outside of Dallas to avoid shul, even if asymptomatic, until two weeks from the date you returned to Dallas have passed. This only applies to the actual traveler, and not to anyone in contact with him/her (such as family members). The decision to commence self-quarantine should be undertaken in consultation with your personal physician, in consonance with the recommendations of the Department of Health.

5. Note that certain populations are deemed to be at higher risk for contracting the disease, such as the immunocompromised, older adults and those of any age experiencing chronic illness. While the CDC does not clearly define the age of “older adults,” people who fall into any of these categories should stay home.

6. We are cancelling Kiddush, Shalosh Seudos and Childcare for the next two Shabbasos in all our communities.

7. Those hosting Shabbos meals should limit the number of invitees.

8. We are all committed to sustaining Torah study during this time. Some shuls will be offering classes via online platforms. Stay tuned for more information from your shul.

Please note that all the above is subject to change, and we will continue to update you regularly. 

We realize that these steps may fill people with worry. Please know that, as your Rabbis, we are here for you to talk through any questions you have or challenges you are struggling with. It is also an opportunity to rise to the occasion, through acts of chessed, such as checking in with people who are alone or otherwise homebound, which is good practice always, pandemic or not. The connectivity of our community has surely  proven to be a weakness in the spread of the disease, and means we need to be constantly vigilant. However, it can also sustain us and bring us together in difficult times. 

Of course, these temporary changes to our communal worship and study do not mean we need to pray and study less; if anything, we need to study and pray more. If you are unable to attend a minyan, please daven at home at the same time as your shul minyanim are taking place, even if this has not been your practice otherwise. Rav Chaim Kanievsky has announced that going forward, every shul and Yeshiva should recite Chapter 142 of Tehillim after every Tefilla. Finally, please pray for the complete and speedy recovery of the following people suffering with COVID-19.

  • HaRav Reuven ben Fruma
  • Avriyah Miriam bas Malkah Reizel
  • Eliezer Yitchak ben Shifra 
  • Daniel Shmuel ben HaRav Chaim Natan Eliyahu 
  • Tziporah Hadara bas Rachel 
  • Elana Devorah bas Freidel Nechama 
  • Shami Aryeh ben Menucha Sarah 
  • David Barak ben Lev Tziviah
  • Yaakov ben Rochel Miriam 
  • Zev Melech ben Beddina
  • Yosef Dov ben Rivka Chaya
  • Uri ben Priva Chaya
  • Yosef Betzalel ben Rut
  • Yaakov Eliezer ben Miriam Masha
  • Yael Michal bas Rut
  • Shmuel Tzvi ben Roiza Frimet
  • Shoshana bas Sarah 
  • Yonina Sara bas Chana 
  • Elchanan Yehonatan ben Chaya 
  • Yitzchak ben Daphna
  • Yosef ben Ester 
  • Aharon Shaul ben Rachel 
  • Zalman Dov ben Esther 
  • Tzvi Yonasan ben Devorah
  • Yosef Dov ben Rivka Chaya
  • Leah bas Dvorah Basha
  • Andrey Avraham ben Berta
  • Aviva Rachel bas Rivka
  • Ariela Malka bas Aviva

May the One Who Heals All People have compassion and bring healing to the world, and may we experience a return to our full routine as soon as possible!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Shlomo Abrams, Jewish Learning Center
Rabbi Zvi Drizin, Intown Chabad
Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum, Congregation Ohr HaTorah
Rabbi Avi Honigsfeld, DATA Richardson
Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky, Congregation Shaare Tefilla
Rabbi Yaakov Rich, Congregation Toras Chaim
Rabbi Moshe Segal, DATA Richardson
Rabbi Ronen Shimon, Young Israel of Dallas
Rabbi Zecharia Sionit, Sephardic Torah Center of Dallas
Rabbi Howard Wolk, Congregation Shaare Tefilla
Rabbi Nasanya Zakon, DATA Plano

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