The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County (RCBC) in northeastern New Jersey announced in a March 12 statement that local Jewish schools and synagogues will be shut down in response to coronavirus concerns.
RCBC said that it had met with officials from local schools, synagogues and hospitals on the evening of March 11 and agreed on the need for closures.
“The doctors expressed significant concern regarding the capacity of our local hospitals to meet the growing needs of their patients in the event of a (expected) large surge of cases of COVID-19,” the statement read. “They reported that while the amount of cases is still low, it seems to be increasing rapidly. Even if patients of COVID-19 are treatable, we may deplete our resources and other patients who suffer from ordinary, serious illnesses will not be able to get the necessary treatment, putting their lives in danger.”
Consequently, in order for the disease to be contained, people need to be socially distanced from each other, hence the need for the shutdowns, the RCBC argued. They proceeded to list a series of social distancing guidelines, which included working from home; zero play dates among children; restaurants providing only take-out options; and no Shabbat dinner gatherings.
“It is with a heavy heart that we are suspending so many of the most crucial routines of our daily lives and lifecycle moments,” the RCBC said. “We do this only because of the compelling nature of our circumstance and the decisive medical testimonies that are consistent with [Centers for Disease Control] recommendations.”
It also said that it would revisit the social distancing guidelines and the closures next week.
Jewish events all over Los Angeles and throughout the country are being canceled in light of coronavirus concerns, in addition to sporting events, Broadway theater —even Disneyland will be closed March 14 and will remain closed at least until the end of the month. Israel also has closed down schools in response to coronavirus.