As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, it is our responsibility, as ma'aminim b'nei ma'aminim, people of faith, to turn to the Ribono shel Olam in tefilah and ask him for Divine compassion. At the same time, we are responsible to make reasonable effort to stem the spread of this virus.
This is an evolving situation. Just today, Governor Hogan banned all gatherings of more than 250 people and ordered the closing of all public schools, effective Monday, March 16th. The medical establishment is encouraging additional precautionary measures be taken. We are asking everyone to remain calm and to continue on with daily life as best as possible. The purpose of these measures is to limit gatherings and interactions as best as possible, which will assist in containing the disease.
Consistent with guidelines from other Jewish communities, the following are a number of guidelines that were endorsed by the Vaad Harabbanim of Baltimore:
1) We are once again urging anyone with any signs of illness, including fever, cough, stomach bug or other sickness should not attend any public gathering. Anyone who is at a heightened risk of contracting the disease, such as the elderly, people with heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and the immunocompromised, should consult with their physician before attending any public gathering.
Public gatherings include going to minyan, even if one is in aveilus or has a Yahrtzeit.
2) Please continue to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Please avoid handshaking and practice social distancing as much as possible.
3) We are cancelling all regular shul kiddushim and communal Shalosh Seudos. Simcha kiddushim may continue at the discretion of the Baalei Simcha in consultation with their Rav and/ or hall owners and in line with Governor’s orders.
4) We discourage people from extraneous congregating inside the shul building.
5) Weighing myriad factors and variables relevant to his shul, each Rav will determine which shiurim will continue regularly and which will be made available through other mediums.
6) We recommend cancelling shul-sponsored social events.
7) As long the schools remain operational, youth groups will continue on Shabbos.
We recognize this is a constantly evolving situation and will continue to make updates.
May Hashem bring healing to all those in need.
VAAD HARABBANIM OF BALTIMORE