In a written statement circulated via email and social media on March 22, the Vaad Horabanim of Greater Pittsburgh issued a list of directives for the Orthodox community, “as well as the community as a whole,” to ensure the “safety of each and every individual” during the COVID-19 crisis as part of its “Torah obligation of hatzalas nefashos (saving lives).”
The directives came shortly after a case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Chabad community in Squirrel Hill. The young adult who contracted the virus is originally from Pittsburgh and came back to the city after being in school in another community, according to a member of the Vaad. That individual and their family are under quarantine.
Seven local Orthodox rabbis signed the statement, which calls for preventing guests, “including children and elderly relatives, from coming to Pittsburgh, including for Pesach or simchas.”
“Family members who arrived here from out of town already, must be quarantined AWAY FROM the entire family, or THE WHOLE FAMILY/HOME must be quarantined from the community for 14 days,” the statement continues. “This time frame is subject to change based on guidelines of your family doctor or of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).”
The rabbis also directed community members to not leave Pittsburgh to travel to any other community for the upcoming Passover holiday.
“We need to protect our families, our community, and other communities as well,” the statement reads.
Additionally, no one should invite local guests for Shabbat or holiday meals, including the seder, according to the rabbis.
Twenty-seven local Jewish physicians endorsed “the medical necessity of the Va’ad instructions,” urging the community to comply, the statement said. PJC