Dear Anshe Sholom,

As Pesach approaches, the mental and emotional health and welfare of our community, along with our physical health, is paramount. We fully recognize that many of us will be spending Pesach without our loved ones, and many will spend it alone. The unprecedented scope and scale of this challenge demands a community-wide preparedness plan. We may not know in advance who will be significantly adversely affected by this isolation - you may not know yourself. Halakhah clearly allows telephone calls (operated in an unusual fashion or with voice activation where possible) whenever mental and emotional health may be adversely impacted. Please read this note carefully and follow up as relevant.

1). Please reach out to someone in your support network - a friend or relative - and be sure that you have a plan with them of how to reach them if you need to talk.
-For cell phone users, leave the phone on and charged with the ring audible.
-For landline users, set up a pre-arranged ring to signal the other person to pick up, or leave a message on the answering machine/voicemail.
If you anticipate mental health challenges, set up a daily check in call with a support person in your life.

2). If you don’t have a person in your support network you can call, and you find yourself over the three first days of Pesach feeling very isolated, anxious, or depressed, please call one of us. If you don’t reach us right away, try again a few minutes later. All of us will keep our phones on.
Rabbi David Wolkenfeld - 917-621-5678
Rabbanit Sara Wolkenfeld - 917-621-5671
Rabbanit Leah Sarna - 617-529-9430
Dr. Sharon Jedel - 312-351-3100

3). If you don’t have a person in your support network you can call if needed over the 3 day yom tov, and you expect to become very isolated, anxious or depressed, and a daily check-in might combat those feelings, please let us know and we will arrange for someone to call you.

4). Finally, if you do not anticipate needing any of the above, but simply want to receive a Saturday night/Sunday morning check-in phone call, please respond to this note and we will be sure to check in after Shabbat.

These are unprecedented and legitimately frightening times. Practices that seemed relatively safe a week ago seem more risky now. Just in the past few days scientists have learned that the number of asymptomatic spreaders of COVID-19 is far higher than had been commonly assumed.
I have such admiration for those of you who will be spending the holiday alone. It is truly heroic, and I hope you will one day look back with pride when you consider all that you are doing right now to save lives and protect those whom you love the most.

With blessings of Torah and Mitzvot and prayers for the health of humanity,

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld & Rabbanit Sara Wolkenfeld
Rabbanit Leah Sarna

You can also click here for additional Jewish Communal Mental Health Support resources.