There is understandably a lot of apprehension about the outbreak of the coronavirus. By keeping ourselves updated from reliable sources such as the Center for Disease Control, each individual and household can determine what precautions are warranted.
As a community, we are also evaluating what steps we should take here at Temple Beth Torah to ensure the health and well-being of all who enter our doors. It is a mitzvah to preserve life (pikuach nefesh). As a result, beginning tonight and onwards, we urge members and guests to be cognizant of the following:
Avoid kissing and hugging when greeting friends and congregants. Consider not shaking hands and adopting alternative greetings like waving, or placing one or both hands over your heart, or exchanging elbow bumps.
At our Shabbat service, we have long encouraged embracing one another when the priestly blessing is offered. Instead of hugging or holding hands, consider placing a hand on another’s shoulder or locking elbows.
Please follow essential practices of cleanliness including washing hands and using utensils when touching food. Please supervise your children in following these guidelines. In addition, we will increase our attention to disinfecting doorknobs and other surfaces.
We can also lift our spirits by praying. This prayer for Medical Scientists, composed by liturgist Alden Solovy, speaks to the urgency of this hour:
“God of wisdom, bless medical scientists and researchers around the world with insight and skill, dedication and fortitude, as they combat coronavirus, so that their work yields knowledge and understanding, speedily finding a vaccine, treatments and deterrents to its spread.
Source of life, grant public health and government officials the strength to act swiftly and decisively, with compassion and understanding, in service to humankind, fighting this outbreak and the other diseases that still plague the planet, diseases threatening the lives of our brothers and sisters, nations and communities, Young and old.
Rock of Ages, bring an end to disease and suffering, So that all may know Your compassion and Your grace.
Praised are You, God, healer of flesh, maker of wonders.”