Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Coronavirus triggers closures, mass quarantines for New York Jewish community

NEW YORK (JTA— This is an evolving story. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency will provide updates as they become available.  

March 4, 5:20 PM: Yeshiva University president Ari Berman shared that Yeshiva University will be cancelling all in-person classes and scheduled events at both the Wilf Campus and Midtown location until after Purim. Students are discouraged from congregating in large areas, though the campus batei midrash — study halls for traditional Jewish religious texts — for now will remain open. Dorms and food services will remain open.
Yeshiva University’s annual Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament for Orthodox high schools across the United States and Canada, scheduled for March 12 through 16, has also been postponed.

March 4, 4:40 PM: Another family in New Rochelle has tested positive with coronavirus, Governor Cuomo confirmed at a press conference.
The three children attend Westchester Torah Academy, a Modern Orthodox day school in White Plains, N.Y.
“The number of people infected will continue to increase,” Cuomo added. “It is a function of mathematics. It is going to be dozens and dozens and dozens… This one person goes back, infects the wife, infects the two sons, infects the daughter. That is one connection that is going to continue to exponentially increase.”

March 4, 10:30 AM: 
In greater New York City, four Jewish day schools have temporarily closed, while 600 congregants of an Orthodox synagogue and two university students have been required to self-quarantine as a result of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday morning, Yeshiva University president Ari Berman informed the YU community that an undergraduate student had tested positive for COVID-19. The student’s father, a 50-year-old Orthodox Jewish attorney from suburban Westchester County, is in critical condition and has tested positive for COVID-19 as well.
All classes at the Wilf Campus in Upper Manhattan were canceled for the day, including graduate courses and the boys’ high school.
The YU student who tested positive has not been on campus since Feb. 27, the university told students and staff on Tuesday.

The afflicted father also has at least one child who attends the Modern Orthodox day school SAR Academy in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.
At a news conference Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared that the man’s wife, daughter and neighbor had tested positive for the virus as well, and that the son who attends YU had been symptomatic prior to his father’s hospitalization. He provided no details on the son’s condition.
The attorney was one of two reported cases of coronavirus in New York as of Tuesday afternoon.

SAR, Westchester Day School and Westchester Torah Academy have all closed temporarily due to possible coronavirus exposure, and Temple Young Israel in New Rochelle, also in Westchester, is being required to halt its services immediately. The state is requiring self-quarantine for congregants and those who have attended recent events at the synagogue.
In Orthodox communities, men are required by Jewish law to pray with a quorum of at least 10 men three times daily, so synagogues typically offer several daily services during the week in addition to Shabbat and holiday services.

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