ודע שהאדם צריך לעבור גשר צר מאד מאד והכלל והעיקר שלא להתפחד כלל

And know that a person will have to cross a very, very narrow bridge and that the rule and key principle is not to get caught up in the fear.  - Rebbe Nachman of Bratslov, Likutei Moharan II, 48

Dear Friends,

PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE MESSAGE.

Yesterday afternoon the Delaware Division of Public Health announced the first positive case of Coronavirus in Delaware.  In addition, The Brandywine School District released their communicable disease response plan. As of right now, we are not suspending services, most programming, Religious School, or closing the Pantry (continuing all with the modified practices and procedures relayed in last week’s email). However, we continue to monitor the situation and have plans and procedures in place if and when we have to further restrict congregational activities in order to facilitate social distancing.

Social distancing is a form of infection control that refers to certain actions that help to stop or slow down the spread of highly contagious diseases.  The purpose of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between persons in order to minimize disease transmission.  Social distancing is most effective when a disease—like the Coronavirus—is transmitted by droplet contact (coughing and sneezing), direct physical contact (with an infected person), and indirect contact (such as touching contaminated surfaces).  Examples of social distancing for individuals include “self-shielding” measures such as limiting face-to-face interactions, maintaining at least six feet of distance from other people, avoiding crowds, avoiding enclosed public spaces (especially those with poor ventilation), conducting business by phone or email, having food and other supplies delivered to your home, reducing unnecessary travel, and staying home as much as possible.

These social distancing practices should, of course, always be combined with other routine safety practices, such as washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throwing the used tissue into a trash can, not touching your face, eyes, or mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects routinely, and as previously stated, staying home when you or members of your household have any respiratory disease symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or shortness of breath.

As stated in last week’s message, and alluded to above, the most effective way to prevent the spread of this virus is to stay home if you or if members of your household have any respiratory disease symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or shortness of breath or any flu-like symptoms such as a fever. For the first week, the symptoms of the Coronavirus are similar to those of a respiratory infection; only in the second week, do the more severe symptoms appear. You may reschedule the yahrzeit of a loved one, and can always participate in our services remotely via livestream from our website. If you or someone in your home is unwell, please stay home, and please call the synagogue so that we can add you to the Mi Shebeirach list and discuss how we may support you, through our Caring Committee or otherwise. We will continue to have sanitizer out, and do what we can to facilitate social distancing viz. food at oneg and our interactions. The livestream can be found at this link. If you would like to follow along at home, the Kindle edition of Mishkan T’filah, our prayerbook, can be found at a discounted price here. There is also a free flip-book of the Shabbat service made available by the CCAR here.

On a personal note, I have spent my adult life serving Jewish congregations in the Reform Movement, and this is the first time that I have experienced a situation quite like this. Fortunately, Congregation Beth Emeth is blessed with an excellent leadership team, and I am ever grateful for their counsel and support.  We are blessed that Cantor Flynn, Rabbi Koppel, and our Executive Director Jon Yulish, the rest of our staff team and religious school faculty, as well as our President Jenn Steinberg, our board and all of our volunteers carry wisdom, thoughtfulness, years of experience. They make our congregation work so well, and that will continue.

Again, in the days ahead, please contact the Synagogue Office if you or if someone you know gets sick.  Also please contact me if you have questions or concerns about what is happening at Congregation Beth Emeth.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, please continue to pray for yourself, your family and friends, our congregation, our communities, and the world.  Mi Shebeirach avoteinu v’imoteinu, hu yivarech et kol hacholim b’refua sheleima. May the one who blessed our ancestors bless all those who are sick with a complete healing. Amen.