Governor Announces Reopening of Shuls

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that beginning today religious gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed statewide, as long as strict social distancing measures are enforced and all participants wear masks.

This announcement follows meetings between Agudath Israel leaders with senior members of Governor Cuomo’s staff and Agudah’s recent statement calling on the governor to place a focus on the safe reopening of shuls, camps, and schools.

Two weeks ago, Agudath Israel disseminated guidelines for reopening shuls after government gives its approval. We urge all to refer to that guidance – formulated by leading rabbonim and respected medical experts, and approved by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. Caution and incremental steps are still advised, given the uncertain nature of this pandemic.

The governor also announced the formation of a council of faith leaders from across the state to advise him on reopening. Agudah’s Executive Vice President, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, has been appointed to that council. Further details will be forthcoming as additional guidelines are developed.

We thank the governor for his attention to Agudath Israel’s and others’ advocacy on this important issue. With Shavuos and Kabolas HaTorah soon arriving, we look forward to the day when our batei knessios and batei midrashim will once again be lively centers of Torah and tefillah.

Hospital Visitations

Governor Cuomo also announced this week a collaboration with Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) and Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) to implement a two-week pilot program that will take place in sixteen hospitals. This new program will allow increased visitations to admitted patients by family members and loved ones. Visits will be time limited, and visitors will be provided with PPE, along with mandatory temperature checks. This is a program that Agudath Israel, along with others, has been advocating for, for weeks. See here for the Agudah statement on this.

NYC Open Streets

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced an initiative to extend open street space in New York to provide room for people to practice social distancing. Individuals or organizations that wish to have other New York City streets considered for the Open Streets Program may submit their suggestions here. Please note that submitting an application does not guarantee acceptance. To view current Open Street locations, visit here.

Parenting a Child with Special Needs

This Thursday night, Agudath Israel’s Project LEARN department will be organizing a webinar on Parenting Your Child With Special Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Noted psychologist Dr. David Pelcovitz will address the concerns of parents of children with special needs, the unique situation such families face, and will talk about easing the stress on the family. Please click here to register.

Agudah Live

On the latest segment of Agudah Live, Rabbi Shai Markowitz and Rabbi Avi Schnall were joined by Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Executive Director of Agudath Israel of Maryland, and Rabbi Yehudah Kazsirer, Director of Lev Rochel Bikur Cholim of Lakewood, to discuss COVID Medical Initiatives and Plasma Testing. Click here to watch and listen.

Boro Park JCC Jobs Initiative

The Boro Park Jewish Community Council is launching a new Home Career Initiative to help those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.The BPJCC is introducing three new courses in response to the tremendous need in our community. During these challenging times, these new courses will allow people to take advantage of their time at home. Courses will be in Quick Books, Graphic Design and Amazon Sales. Click here to register for any of the free courses.