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In addition to the emails being sent out, this page will provide a source for updates to the HIWP community about the COVID-19 coronavirus, with respect to impacts on the congregation. We will update this page regularly as the situation evolves. We wish everyone continued good health!

March 16, 2020

Key developments:
  • The precautionary quarantines for students from local Jewish schools are ending over the coming 24 hours. However, we need all of our members -- young and old -- to continue to abide by the strict social distancing guidelines that we are following as a community. Although compliance with these guidelines isn't easy, it is the ethical and halachic responsibility of each of us to do so in order to safeguard those around us during this public health crisis -- and especially to protect our most vulnerable members.
  • As a reminder, some important restrictions that we are asking our members to observe include:
    • Children from different families should not have playdates, even outside.
    • Families should not join one another for Shabbat meals.
    • Neither group nor one-on-one sports should be played between people from different households (frisbee, basketball, football, baseball, etc.), even if there is no direct physical contact.
  • An additional number of our members have been tested and are awaiting results. Further positives should be expected, but we are trying to limit the spread within the community by practicing disciplined social distancing.
  • Any shul members who test positive should inform either Doug Hirshon or Rabbi Marder, as well as anyone with whom they have interacted. Doug and Rabbi Marder will do their utmost to protect the individual's privacy. If it is a student who tests positive, the school must be informed as well.
  • Starting on Thursday, March 19th, Stop & Shop will begin opening earlier (6:00 AM.-7:30 AM daily) to service customers who are age 60 and over.
  • We're a no-stigma zone! While we expect infected individuals and their families to strictly follow all quarantine/isolation instructions from the Board of Health, testing positive is nothing to be ashamed of, and no one should judge you. We are here to help, and also do our best to ensure the safety and well-being of our entire community.
  • With heightened stress sometimes comes household tension and even violence. The Shalom Task Force has asked us to share their confidential hotline number, (888) 883-2323, which you can call for help if you or a loved one is in an abusive or unhealthy relationship.

March 12, 2020

The Orthodox Rabbis of Southern Westchester today collectively issued directives for social distancing in our shul communities, in an effort to help stop the spread of the virus. The following summarizes these directives:
  • Community members are strongly encouraged to work from home, if possible, and to stay home whenever possible. It is critical for adults to set the right example.
  • We strongly discourage playdates with children from different families, even if they are not under quarantine. It also goes without saying that it is against the law, against Halacha, and a tremendous Chillul Hashem to allow children under quarantine to have playdates with other children.
  • Westchester Orthodox shuls will be closed for all minyanim and shiurim effective immediately until further notice. There should be no house minyanim. All of the rabbis will be davening alone in their own homes. Please daven at home, individually.
  • There should be no public celebrations for Semachot.
  • People should not have gatherings for Shabbat meals.
  • Shiva visits should be replaced by phone/video calls.
  • Funerals should be restricted to a small group of close family members and a minyan.
  • Restaurants should not seat customers. People should order food for pick-up and delivery only. Please consider ordering from and supporting local eateries, as they depend on our business at difficult times like these.
  • Mikvaot will remain open, by appointment only (Young Israel of Scarsdale mikvah is open; Young Israel of New Rochelle mikvah opens on Sunday). Both Mikvaot have been cleaned and sanitized, and will follow strict protocols for ongoing cleaning and sanitation. Women under quarantine, who are experiencing symptoms of illness, or have a family member who has tested positive for COVID-19, may not use the mikvaot at this time. Please consult your Rav for further guidance on specific questions.
  • The Va'ad Harabanim (Rabbinical Council) of Bergen County, New Jersey issued similar directives today as well.
  • UJA-Federation of NY, PJ Library, The Jewish Education Project, and the Foundation for Jewish Camp have joined together to aggregate a collection of high-quality Jewish activities and content that families can engage in together at home. These resources are intended to help support families with young children who are quarantined or socializing less right now.

March 10, 2020

  • We have one additional confirmed COVID-19 case in the HWP community and a small number of other people who were tested and received negative results. The individual who tested positive is an adult who was at our TIC minyan on Shabbat morning of 2/29/20 (but not on this most recent Shabbat, 3/7/20). The person was asymptomatic when in shul, and was not at the Maple Annex. That individual is at home and we extend wishes for a refuah shelemah. While we hope no one else has contracted the virus, we should be prepared for additional cases to emerge in our community. 
  • We spoke this evening to the Chief of Staff for the NYS Department of Health and the following are the important takeaways:
    • The NYS DOH is making no general recommendation for us to quarantine at this time.
    • The primary guideline provided is that if any of our members are sick and have viral symptoms, which may include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, they should call 855-626-7662 to request testing. When calling, people should specify that they had a potential exposure at the Hebrew Institute of White Plains, which has had positively identified cases.
    • Additional recommendations include maintaining social distancing, avoiding large crowds, and continuing common sense precautions (hand washing, etc.).
    • The NYS DOH office will consult with the Westchester DOH, who may get back to us with additional guidance, although they could not provide a definitive timeline for follow-up.
  • UJA is offering free kosher catered Shabbat dinners this weekend to those under quarantine who are in need, and having difficulty providing for themselves during this time (i.e., the elderly, infirm, people/families who have been impacted financially, etc.).
    • Please note: They have a limited number of meals they can provide, so please consider those who would benefit most. 
    • If you or someone you know would benefit from this offer, please contact by tomorrow, March 11th at 3:00pm. 

March 8, 2020

  • One of the children in the HIWP community has tested positive for COVID-19 and was at services on February 29 (the child was asymptomatic at that time). As a result, we are suspending all shul services and activities until further notice. This includes megillah readings, Shabbat services, daily minyanim, classes, and the Thrift Shop. Outdoor services/gatherings will not be permitted either.
  • We are in communication with the Westchester County Department of Health to determine if any quarantine is required and will provide a further update as soon as possible.
Purim & mishloach manot information -- Rabbi Marder has confirmed that under the circumstances, our members may fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the megillah remotely this year:
  • Monday night, March 9 and Tuesday, March 10: We will provide links to livestream megillah reading options when available.
  • Mishloach Manot -- As a reminder, please do not distribute individual mishloach manot this year. Unfortunately we have also had to cancel the HIWP communal mishloach manot. Hopefully we will be able to reschedule deliveries for a future date -- we'll provide updates as we know more.
  • Rabbi Marder has sent an email for guidance on fulfilling the mitzvot of mishloach manot and matanot l'evyonim this year.
We're launching a new "Share the Joy!" initiative:
  • We are looking for creative ways to share the joy and stay connected. Please write in with ideas for virtual events and other ideas you might have.
  • The Marders kicked things off with Doni's virtual bar mitzvah, and now, we'd like to celebrate Purim together, even if we're physically apart. Please send Purim photos to or We'll compile them into an online album which we will email out for everyone to enjoy. Photos can include you/your kids in costume, hamentashen baking, having family seudot, and the megillah readings you attend -- whether virtually or in a private home setting. We look forward to receiving your pictures!
Additional information:
  • A new hotline number has been set up for those that suspect they may be infected and have viral symptoms including a fever: 855-626-7662.
  • A specific Westchester hotline number has been established for those who are under self quarantine: 866-588-0195.
  • General COVID-19 questions can be directed to Westchester's 211 hotline number (8am - 10pm, seven days a week). Information is also available on the Hudson Valley 211 websiteand the United Way Westchster-Putnam website
  • Reminder: If you think you may be symptomatic, do not go to the emergency room -- you must call ahead before arrival to avoid putting other people at risk. For White Plains Hospital, call 914-681-2900 and press number 2. You may also call your doctor for guidance.

March 5, 2020

  • As of this afternoon, in addition to SAR High School and WTA, faculty and students at WDS were also placed under self-quarantine due to a confirmed case in the school. 
  • The celebration of Doni Marder’s bar mitzvah will not take place this Shabbat. This was a very difficult decision for Rabbi Marder and Suzie, but as always, they put the wellbeing of the kehillah first, and we are so grateful to them for that. Mazel Tov to the Marder family and Doni on his becoming a Bar Mitzvah, and we look forward to celebrating with them when the time is right.
  • Regular Shabbat morning services are currently scheduled to take place at the TIC and Maple Annex locations.
  • Youth Groups are cancelled this week.
  • We are arranging for a special live-streamed megillah reading for those who will not be in shul due to the health concerns. Details to follow.
Please note the following updated, more stringent, guidelines:
  • If you or anyone in your house feels at all unwell -- including children who may appear to simply have a minor cold -- you are not permitted to attend shul. Please stay home with your family.
  • People at higher risk for COVID-19 complications (older people and those with underlying health conditions, as per the CDC), should not attend shul. 
  • If you are in a quarantine group, it goes without saying that you may not come to shul. We send you our best -- hang in there!  We are looking into ways we can support you as a community. If you are in quarantine and need assistance, please reach out to us and let us know your needs.
  • Do not distribute individual mishloach manot this year. Rabbi Marder has said that members should fulfill their obligation by sending through the shul only.
Additional information:
  • A specific Westchester hotline number has been established for those who are under self quarantine: 866-588-0195.
  • General COVID-19 questions can be directed to Westchester’s 211 hotline number (8am – 10pm, seven days a week). Information is also available on the Hudson Valley 211 website and the United Way Westchster-Putnam website
  • Reminder: If you think you may be symptomatic, do not go to the emergency room -- you must call ahead before arrival to avoid putting other people at risk. For White Plains Hospital, call 914-681-2900 and press number 2. You may also call your doctor for guidance.

March 4, 2020

  • Members of two families at the Young Israel of New Rochelle have tested positive for COVID-19. We pray for a speedy recovery for those who are sick and send our best wishes to the families.
  • At the directive of the health department, the YINR has been ordered to halt all services for now, and anyone who attended Shabbat services on February 22, or the bat mitzvah or funeral on February 23 at YINR must self-quarantine until at least March 8. (See the County press release and the County Executive’s Fast Facts on COVID-19 in Westchester County). You may view new announcements as they are released at the Westchester County Health site. 
  • Beyond those in the currently mandated quarantine circle, the current direction of County officials is that people in the area’s Jewish community do not need to engage in measures beyond those recommended for the public at large.
  • There are currently no directives or advisories to cancel any planned communal events or services (aside from those at YINR). However, as the situation is continually evolving we are in regular conversation about upcoming shul events, and will make decisions in the best interest of the health of our congregation. 
Please note the following adjustments to our community practices that we are implementing, and guidance for what to do if you feel ill:
  • We have decided to cancel this year’s Purim carnival, and any tickets purchased will be refunded. We know this may be disappointing, but we need to be prudent right now.
  • If you or anyone in your house feels at all unwell -- including children who may appear to simply have a minor cold -- please err on the side of keeping your entire family home from shul.
  • If you are a member of a “high risk” group (elderly, those with underlying health conditions), for your own safety we strongly encourage you to stay home from services and gatherings. You will be missed, but your health is paramount.  
  • We are eliminating hand-shaking and circle dancing at shul until further notice. An “elbow bump” is an acceptable alternative for shaking hands.
  • In the Torah service, we will be shortening the procession through the community and eliminating the kissing of the Torah and mezuzot until further notice.
  • We are in the process of reviewing and modifying our food handling practices for kiddush and other events.
  • Purim services are currently still scheduled to take place. We are working to arrange for a live-feed of the megillah reading for those not permitted to attend or for whom it is medically unwise to do so.
  • If you think you may be symptomatic, do not go to the emergency room -- you must call ahead before arrival to avoid putting other people at risk. You may also call your doctor for guidance.
  • You may call Westchester’s 211 hotline for up-to-date COVID-19 information, from 8am – 10pm, seven days a week.
Please continue to practice the following common sense guidelines:
  • Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Use an alcohol based hand sanitizer of at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces with non-"green" products (i.e. bleach-based).
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or elbow; discard tissues after a single use.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Thu, April 9 2020 15 Nisan 5780