Friday, March 6, 2020
10 Adar 5780
Dear Tikvat Israel Family,
The spread of novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) around the world, in the U.S., and now in Montgomery County is triggering a great deal of stress and anxiety in our community. We want you to be aware that the volunteer leadership, staff and clergy of Tikvat Israel are monitoring the situation and how it may affect our community. We are maintaining close communication with the state and local authorities, and their guidance will help us as we conduct our religious services, our daily business operations, our ECC and our other community gatherings.
Outbreaks such as these--which are, unfortunately, a fact of life--are also an important time to revisit common hygiene practices and tools to reduce the spread of infections in our community. The guidance on this topic from Jewish tradition is very clear. We want everyone in our community to live a happy and healthy life, and we are obligated to be vigilant about wellness to protect vulnerable individuals. By reducing the spread of infections in our community, we reduce the exposure faced by our friends and family who may have compromised immunity due to chemotherapy, medications, chronic illnesses and chronic lung conditions. We are obligated to protect those who can’t always protect themselves. Please remember this fact when you wash your hands, cover your cough and, most importantly, limit your contact with the community when you are ill.
The following best practices are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and apply to the current COVID-19 outbreak as well as the entire cold and Influenza season:
• Instead of a handshake, consider using a fist bump or elbow bump. Feel free to turn down a handshake even on Shabbat; people will understand!
• Practice not touching your face, eyes, mouth or nose during the day. We know how difficult his can be, but it is a habit that can be learned like any other habit.
• Consider not kissing the Torah. While this is customary, it is not a halachic requirement. A slight bow or nod is another way you can show honor to the Torah as it goes around the sanctuary.
Please use serving utensils at Kiddush and serve food for children. Please make sure children aren't taking any food without adult supervision.
Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues, and wash your hands afterwards.
• Wash your hands with soap and water frequently throughout the day. We have put reminder signs up in all of our restrooms throughout the building.
• Consider using alcohol based hand sanitizer. Remember to let your hands dry as the drying action kills the germs. Tikvat Israel has purchased several motion activated sanitizer dispensers that will be permanently installed at key locations in the building in the next 10 days. Rabbi Israel has given permission for these battery-power devices to be used on Shabbat.
If you are sick
• Please do not go to work, school or shul, and please do not attend community events.
• Please contact the front office. The mitzvah of bikur holim does not stop during an outbreak, and we want to make sure you are supported and getting better. If you know of someone else who may be sick, please also let us know so we can reach out to them.
The current outbreak can be a source of anxiety that can be compounded by sensationalized and inaccurate information. Please know that we are blessed in our country and in our region with reliable sources of information and support. We recommend information provided by the
Maryland Department of Health
Rabbi Marc Israel
Cantor Rochelle Helzner