Orthodox Leaders Urge U.S. Jews to Limit Passover Preparations in Light of Coronavirus

Danielle Ziri
Danielle Ziri
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Signs on a tent at the entrance of Chai Urgent Care in Brooklyn's Williamsburg community, March 18, 2020.
Signs on a tent at the entrance of Chai Urgent Care in Brooklyn's Williamsburg community, March 18, 2020.Credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews
Danielle Ziri
Danielle Ziri

Major Orthodox Jewish organizations in the United States are asking community members to limit preparations for Passover to essentials only, in light of government health guidelines.

"We are accustomed to honoring Pesach to the fullest degree, including getting haircuts, purchasing new clothing and tableware, and preparing the fullest menus,” they wrote in a letter. “This year’s public health crisis mandates us to significantly limit all of the above."

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 70

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Essential Passover purchases, they said, are to be done by “one family member only – who is neither ill, vulnerable, nor of known exposure to COVID-19 – as rarely and as briefly as possible."

"Stores serving the community should shift to home delivery or drive-by parking lot pick-up of pre-orders, and – to the extent this is not possible – must take substantive steps to minimize crowding, maintain hygiene, and maximize social distancing,” the groups said.

In addition, the organizations - including the Rabbinical Alliance of America, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, the National Council of Young Israel, The Vaad of Lakewood and Agudath Israel of America - called for people to cancel Passover travel plans.

"Everyone must plan to celebrate Pesach where they are currently,” they said. “We are deeply sympathetic to this enormous difficulty. Nevertheless, public health demands strict adherence to the current guidance."

The Coronavirus outbreak has shaken up the ways of lives of millions around the globe, including Jewish communities who found themselves at the epicenters of the crisis.

In the past weeks, Orthodox groups and Rabbinical leaders have made unprecedented moves to urge people to stay home and closed religious institutions in an effort to help reduce the rate of contamination.

New York is by far the hardest hit state in the U.S. with more than 20,000 confirmed cases most of which, 13,000, are in New York City.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Tuesday that the rate of new infections is doubling about every three days. "We haven’t flattened the curve and the curve is actually increasing,” he said. “We are exercising all options as aggressively as we can."

On Sunday, the White House announced the National Guard will be deployed to assist in the fight against the virus in New York, California and Washington States.

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