For Westchester Family with Coronavirus, a Sense of ‘Pandemonium’


One member of the Westchester Jewish family at the center of the growing coronavirus spread in New York State describes the effect of the disease, and its aftermath, as “pandemonium.”

Adina Garbuz, who tested positive for the virus — along with her husband-law partner Lawrence and the couple’s two children — posted a long message Friday on Facebook to “share some truths and allay some fears.”

“All I and my family care about is that my husband/their father get better,” she wrote. “We shuttered the windows” of the family’s home in New Rochelle, “turned off the internet and together stayed strong and in good spirits.”

“Other than Lawrence no one else in my family has been sick other than a slight cough.”

Garbuz thanked her “wonderful friends,” many of them fellow members of Young Israel of New Rochelle, which has remained closed since the Garbuz’s diagnosis last week, “who have cared for us despite the running fears all around us.”

Lawrence Garbuz is in in the intensive care unit of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, while the rest of the family — including a 20-year-old son who studies at Yeshiva University, and 14-year-old daughter, a student at SAR in Riverdale — is quarantined at home.

Both schools closed last week as a precaution.

Adina Lewis Garbuz said on her Facebook post that “When I was first informed of the positive result, I and my entire family immediately provided any and all information to several Departments of Health well into the wee hours of the night in hopes of letting this all be contained as quickly as possible for all of us.”

Late last week, state officials reported that 18 people in Westchester had been diagnosed with Covid-19, including five members of another New Rochelle family that had contact with Garbuz, and the rabbi of Young Israel. Reuven Fink. They synagogue’s web page said the rabbi’s wife, Abby Fink, also tested positive for the coronavirus.

“As soon as I was made aware of the diagnosis, I personally immediately contacted everyone” in the midtown firm where the couple are law partners “and all were quarantined. All have been working remotely ever since,” Adina Lewis Garbuz wrote on Facebook.


Jewish schools in the Greater New York area that are closed today include the Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, the Luria School in Brooklyn, the Heschel School and the Shefa School in Manhattan. The closure at the Frisch School in Paramus, N.J., has been extended at least through this week, JTA reported. Manhattan High School for Girls, an Orthodox school, is also closed after a teacher there tested positive for the virus.

March of the Living,  which brings thousands of young people to Poland each year for Holocaust commemoration, announced that this year’s march has been canceled. The decision was made “with a heavy heart,” the march’s chair said in a statement.

Sutton Place Synagogue in Manhattan is live-streaming its daily worship services for people unable to attend in person. That will include the Megillah reading on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

The Riverside Mikvah announced enhanced health precautions “to ensure that attending the Mikvah will be a safe, secure and healthy experience.” The Mikvah requested that women “with any symptoms of illness, including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and upper respiratory infection” not utilize the ritual bath.

Chabad of the West Side issued a notice that one of its congregants tested positive for the disease, but the center “will continue to hold normal services as of now.”

The Orthodox Union in an email notice stated that it “is not recommending that communities cancel minyanim, Shabbat services or Purim gatherings unless directed to do so by a community’s local health department.”

The Jewish Funders Network will not hold its 2020 International conference, scheduled for March 22-24 in Palm Beach, Fla. Organizers of the gathering for philanthropy professionals and lay leaders said the decision was based on the Israeli government’s decision to quarantine Israelis who travel for the conference upon their return, restrictions put on international and domestic travel by various participating organizations, and the fact that a number of participants in the recent American Israel Public Affairs Conference in Washington tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. At least three people who attended the AIPAC conference, one from Los Angeles and two from New York, tested positive for the coronavirus. Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of JFN, wrote in an email that “the interconnectedness of the Jewish world … increases significantly the risk for any Jewish event.”

The Jewish Week Media Group postponed its Grand Wine Tasting event scheduled for March 16, with hopes of rescheduling the event a few weeks prior to the High Holidays. “We deeply regret this, but this health concern is most significant and the need to be responsible and not put anyone at risk is paramount,” wrote publisher Rich Waloff.

And in a bit of good news in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Yeshiva University Maccabees won its first-ever trip to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Division II tournament with a victory over Penn State Harrisburg on Saturday. Because of the coronavirus, the game was played in an empty gym at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.


UJA-Federation of New York has compiled resources to help the Jewish community find advice, services and opportunities for learning during the virus outbreak.