Dear BJ Members and Friends,
We write tonight with important information regarding COVID-19 in our community, and our evolving response to this communal challenge and public health pandemic. Additionally, we have established a link on the homepage of the BJ website that has the latest information about the impact of COVID-19 on our community as well as links to other resources.
Last Saturday night, a BJ child was exposed to a person who today, tested positive for COVID-19. The person who tested positive is not a member of the BJ community, and the exposure happened at the Marlene Meyerson JCC (many of you have likely received relevant communication from the JCC). The BJ child was part of the BJ Theater Company’s Purim Spiel rehearsal on Sunday, rehearsal and performance on Monday, and rehearsal today. During the rehearsal, the child’s parents became aware of the exposure and removed their child from the BJ campus.
In consultation with the NYC Department of Health, BJ members who were in contact with the exposed child are advised to continue life as usual, while the family of the child who was exposed is expected to self-isolate and closely monitor their health. We will, of course, stay in touch with that family, and should their status change we will act and communicate accordingly. As such, we are not closing our campus down at this time, however out of an abundance of caution, we are canceling all Family Life & Learning programs on Wednesday and Thursday until we can ascertain more information.
As we have previously shared, BJ has instituted a program of extra cleaning and disinfecting of the campus during the past week, and we have added ongoing wiping of surfaces, handles, knobs, and buttons with disinfectant wipes throughout the day. Hand washing or use of hand sanitizer is mandatory for everyone who enters the BJ Sanctuary or Community House, adults and children alike. These protocols will continue for the foreseeable future.
As of today, the CDC is advising those who are at risk (over 60, and/or with underlying health conditions) to minimize their social exposure. At the same time, we recognize that coming together in prayer is not just an act of religious commitment, it is also an expression of community, one which provides spiritual and emotional sustenance. And so we are committed to continue to offer daily minyanim and Shabbat services in person, while ensuring those services are available via our livestream. (If you need assistance with technology, or wish to borrow a siddur, please email firstname.lastname@example.org).
We also hold, as a faith community committed to the social welfare of the larger communities in which we live, work, and study, the importance of helping to slow the spread of the virus. And so we are moving to reduce opportunities for exposure where possible. For the time being, we will cease providing Kiddush on Shabbat and we are canceling other shared-meal programming. We are converting our Adult Education classes to Zoom calls, and committee meetings to Zoom or conference calls. Those of you signed up for any of these will be getting direct communications with instructions. BJ remains committed to support our communities in need: Our shelter will continue to operate as usual at BJ and SPSA, and we will offer food-to-go to our Judith Bernstein Lunch Program guests.
We know that the BJ community serves as a true sanctuary for so many of us and provides not only a place to call home but a community of support, love, and inspiration. In uncertain times, community is all the more important. Even if, at the present moment, we can not gather in all the traditional ways we are used to, we will find ways to remain connected to Torah, to God, and to one another.