As you are certainly aware, most New York synagogues have cancelled services this Shabbat.
Ansche Chesed initially elected to have services tomorrow morning.
We chose this for two reasons: First, the Mayor's office recommended that religious organizations proceed with regularly scheduled services, as long as they involve fewer than 250 people. They stressed that in a time of social isolation, religious services can provide moral support, if they can be conducted safely. We hoped to meet that condition.
Additionally, a young woman is to be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah tomorrow, and we wanted her and her family to be able to celebrate.
But it is clear that our initial decision was wrong. We are changing it now.
Public services for this Shabbat and next Shabbat are canceled.
Tomorrow, we will hold a private service in the sanctuary for the Donath family and those of their guests who wish to come, plus the small number of AC members who have committed to taking liturgical roles in the service. We will not have Kabbalat Shabbat today, or kids' services or the study group tomorrow.
Minyan M'at has chosen to cancel for tomorrow as well. The West Side Minyan already canceled for the next month.
We will make decisions about future Shabbatot in the coming days, taking into consideration facts as they emerge.
For the time being, weekday morning Minyan is suspended. We will make a decision in the coming days when to resume that service.
The Mayor's office was not wrong: People need to be sustained by their religious communities in a time of crisis. You all know me and know my religious orientation, and know that I am most reluctant to bring electronic media into services. But the Covid-19 pandemic is the very definition of
/sha'at ha'd'hak, an emergency.
Tomorrow morning's service will be streamed on the AC Facebook page, beginning at 9:45 am. There will be a physical minyan in the shul. Those who watch remotely can consider themselves part of the minyan, answering the blessings and saying Kaddish.
In the upcoming days and weeks, perhaps months, of social isolation, it will be all the more important to maintain contact with others. Rabbi Hammerman, Hazzan Hirschhorn and I will be extra vigilant about calling friends who live alone, especially the elderly, to check in on how they are doing and how we might help. Please do the same to your own friends and neighbors.
If you need help - obtaining medicine and food, for instance - tell us when we call you or others reach out. Don't hesitate to call us, or let us know via email. We will be glad to hear from you.
We at the shul are developing additional remote programming, permitting us to connect with each other when and if we're stuck at home. Please keep your eyes out for this information and please participate.