Many synagogues will not hold public Shabbat services this weekend

TJP Staff

In an unprecedented step locally, members of the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas have shut down their public communal Shabbat Services this weekend, March 13-14, to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

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On Thursday night the City of Dallas and Dallas County banned public gatherings of more than 500 people, which include houses of worship for the next week (read the TJP story:

The RAGD sent an email out to members of Dallas Jewish community Friday afternoon:

“We are writing with an important update regarding COVID-19 and the growing health situation in our community and country. 

“The Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas (RAGD) recently met after consulting with local health experts.  As you are aware, the situation continues to change rapidly and we are basing our decision on the most up-to-date medical advice. 

In order to protect the health and safety of our congregants, the RAGD has made the decision that there will be NO public communal services this Shabbat (March 13-14).  Please consult with your Rabbi regarding how to proceed with observing Shabbat and prayer. 

“We hope you realize it was not easy to come to this position; but in order to practice the recommendations of social distancing, slow the spread of this virus, and uphold the Jewish value of preserving life, we are abiding by the recommendation of the local medical community.  We remind everyone that while we have made this unprecedented decision, it is important that you continue to limit gatherings in your homes over the course of Shabbat and avoid close physical contact with people who are sick.

“We recognize that prayer and being connected to the Jewish community is critically important, especially during times of uncertainty.  Please know this change to communal prayer does not impact the availability of your rabbi.  We are all committed to providing the support, comfort, and religious leadership that you expect from us.  We are exploring ways to provide this care most effectively during this new reality.  We will communicate as new information becomes available. 

We wish everyone affected by this virus and all who are ill a refuah shleimah, a complete and full healing.

“Shabbat Shalom.”

Twenty-three rabbis signed the letter. They include:

Rabbi Michael Cohen (The Legacy Senior Communities)

Rabbi Heidi Coretz (Shir Tikvah and SMU Hillel)

Rabbi Yaakov Green (Akiba Academy)

Rabbi Mordechai Harris (Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas)

Rabbi Kimberly Herzog Cohen (Temple Emanu-El)

Rabbi Michael Kushnick (Anshai Torah)

Rabbi Jeremy Litton (Levine Academy)

Rabbi Andrew Paley (Temple Shalom)

Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky (Shaare Tefilla)

Rabbi Debra Robbins (Temple Emanu-El)

Rabbi Adam Roffman (Shearith Israel)

Rabbi Amy Ross (Temple Emanu-El)

Rabbi Seymour Rossel

Rabbi Matt Rutta (Levine Academy)

Rabbi David Stern (Temple Emanu-El)

Rabbi Ari Sunshine (Shearith Israel

Rabbi Benjamin Sternman (Adat Chaverim)

Rabbi Joshua Taub

Rabbi Dan Utley (Temple Emanu-El)

Rabbi Shira Wallach (Shearith Israel)

Rabbi Stefan Weinberg (Anshai Torah)

Rabbi Howard Wolk (JFS Community Chaplain and Shaare Tefilla)

Rabbi Elana Zelony (Beth Torah)

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