Dear Members,
As we are all aware, the current COVID-19 situation is an ever-evolving international health issue. Our Bet Torah staff and lay leadership are working hard to stay abreast of all information coming from Westchester County, New York State and the CDC. Of course, the health and safety of our entire community remains our top priority.

At Bet Torah, our custodians are cleaning high-touch surface areas and doorknobs more frequently; we also continue to follow regular protocol and sanitize children’s toys daily. We are working to purchase permanent hand sanitizer dispensers for public areas at Bet Torah, though keep in mind the time it takes to acquire these items right now. For now, in an abundance of caution, we recommend “social distancing” practices, meaning elbow bumps and waves instead of handshakes and hugs. Finally, please remember that if you are not feeling well, you can watch Shabbat services through our livestreaming service. Our weekly email blasts ( click here for email blast ) include a password and “stream service” information. You can also click here for ( Live Streaming FAQ) .

Health authorities continue to stress the need for common sense preventative measures . First and foremost, we all should be washing our hands regularly with warm water and soap; secondly, it is imperative that we all stay home if we are sick (see below for further recommendations). Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

During a conference call convened by Westchester Jewish Council in cooperation with the Westchester County Executive’s Office, the Westchester County Department of Health and the New York State Governor’s Office, we learned the following information, as of yesterday afternoon, Mar. 3: 

• A New Rochelle resident and member of Young Israel of New Rochelle has been confirmed infected with the COVID-19 virus.
• 12 other individuals have been quarantined for observation. Please note this information is constantly changing.
• Young Israel has been closed for the time being, and a few schools with some overlapping populations have followed New York State guidance to remain closed today, Mar. 4, in an effort to provide health authorities more time to evaluate the situation.
• Individuals who may have been in contact with the patient but have not yet been contacted by the county or state should begin a self-quarantine and contact by phone or email health officials (see below for more details).
• There is no current indication that the virus has expanded beyond New Rochelle and thus no current concern for the larger Jewish population in Westchester County.
• There is no current recommendation for any mass cancellations of events or meetings nor any large-scale quarantines.

County health officials informed us that the New Rochelle patient attended religious services, a funeral and a Bat Mitzvah at Young Israel on Saturday Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 23; anyone who attended any of those events at Young Israel during that weekend are asked to self-quarantine and contact by phone or email their doctor or any of the following health agencies: 

  • NYS Department of Health Novel Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-364-3065

Additional Common-Sense Preventative Measures:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. As an alternative, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• If you have young children, wash their hands before school and upon arriving home.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash
• Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

While we recognize that the rapidly changing nature of this situation, as well as news of school closings and quarantines, can create fear and concern, these steps are important to help suspend the transmission of this virus and help protect our community. We will continue to stay informed and vigilant as we care for Bet Torah.

We also ask you to do your part: Please familiarize yourselves with the every-day personal and public health preventative actions recommended by the CDC , and if you have traveled to any CDC COVID-19 transmission countries , please follow the 14-day self-quarantine recommendation.

We send blessings for healing to the New Rochelle patient and to the entire congregation at Young Israel of New Rochelle, with wishes for a speedy and full recovery. And we thank you for partnering with us and prioritizing the well being of our precious community.  

Carol Siege, President

Seth Young, Executive Director