April 1, 2020/ 7 Nissan 5780
Dear beloved members of our wonderful community,
Many of us are asking ourselves a new question this year: "Why is this Pesach different from all other Pesachs?"
We are keenly aware of the extreme challenges to all aspects of life that have been created by the need for social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. Each of us personally shares the enormous burden that this has placed on all families. Every decision for the Tzibbur is carefully weighed with the full understanding of its myriad implications.
With Siyata Dishmaya [with the help of Heaven], our joint commitment to community guidelines has certainly contributed to the saving of many lives. Our community is ahead of the unfortunate trend being experienced by other frum communities because of our repeated emphasis and success in social distancing. While many of us B"H remain healthy and even have recovered from the virus, there are many who are not as fortunate. We have an individual and collective responsibility to do our absolute utmost to protect the many lives that can still be spared.
We have been advised by many prominent physicians to strongly advise the following:
1) We should not host any guests, even family, for any days of Pesach.
2) We should not invite anyone, including local family members, for meals or Sedarim on Pesach.
These recommendations apply even to those who have fully recovered from Covid-19, those who have been in quarantine for 14 days, and to family members who find it difficult to make Pesach on their own.
Those with extenuating circumstances such as cases where physical or mental health may be adversely affected, should discuss their individual situation with a reputable physician and their respective Rav. Please also be in touch with your Rav to ensure that all food arrangements are in place, and that your diverse Yom Tov needs are properly addressed.
It is extremely difficult and even heartbreaking to have to make these recommendations, particularly for the Yom Tov most closely associated with family and guests. However, for the protection of our community as well as our own families, our attitude must be: "What can I do to protect the lives of others?" rather than, "Can I ignore these recommendations because they are difficult for me?" It is helpful to keep in mind that this situation will IY"H be transient - and it is not wise to make a short-term decision for one Yom Tov that may, chas v'sholom, have terrible consequences for all future Yomim Tovim.
While our ability to fulfill "kol dich'fin yei'sei v'yeichol" may be limited this year, we will renew our kavanah for "li'shana haba b'ar'ah d'Yisroel". Klal Yisroel together as one, "ki'ish echad bi'lev echad," celebrating in the Binyan Bayis Shlishi speedily in our days.
We wish you all a truly meaningful and uplifting Chag Kasher V'Sameach!
With profound love, deep respect, sincere care and heartfelt concern, for all the incredible members of our special community,
THE RABBANIM OF THE FIVE TOWNS/FAR ROCKAWAY COMMUNITY