Israel maintains travel ban, OU discourages group prayer, groups offer Shavuot study


The ban on non-Israelis entering Israel in order to stop the spread of Covid-19 has been extended at least two weeks into mid-June, JTA reports. The Israel Airports Authority notified airlines on Wednesday that non-citizens would be barred until at least June 15. In addition, Israelis returning from abroad will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days until that time.

Many airlines, including Air Canada, Lufthansa and Delta, have announced the resumption of flights to Israel beginning next month. It is not known how this announcement will affect those plans.

Social distancing guidelines seemingly “took a backseat to good vibes” Thursday night as some 5,000 people packed a beachfront concert in Tel Aviv, in what appeared to be the largest gathering since the start of the coronavirus outbreak over two months ago, according to the Times of Israel. The concert, billed as a solidarity event for musicians who have struggled during the lockdown, came as Israel has seen new infections dwindle, though dozens of new cases are still reported daily and fears have grown of secondary outbreaks in Tel Aviv and nearby cities.

Hebrew media reports put the size of the crowd at about 5,000 people who came out to see some of Israel’s best-known rock stars, including Aviv Gefen, Berry Sakharoff and Ehud Banai. The concert, held at Charles Clore Park, was put on with a police permit and in line with coronavirus social distancing and hygiene regulations, however, many concert-goers did not maintain distance between each other and few were seen wearing masks.

The Orthodox Union yesterday reinforced its commitment against the resumption of group prayer services until the Covid-19 pandemic further recedes. “We are certainly encouraged that downward trends in disease have moved many states towards re-opening. Nevertheless, we reiterate that based on our Halachic value of the concern for life (Pikuach Nefesh), a government’s allowance of Minyanim – for which we are grateful – does not mean that such Minyanim should occur,” the organization said in a statement.

The statement reiterated guidance from the OU and the Rabbinical Council of America requiring “a clear flattening of the curve and a verified safe period of 14 days following communal reopening” before in-person services could be held.

As of Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed religious services if limited to 10 or fewer participants with social distancing and masks in place.

Avishalom Rosilio, a resident of Migdal HaEmek in Israel, has passed away, making him at 33 the country’s youngest victim of the coronavirus, World Israel News reports. “His death was doubly tragic as he survived cancer and less than a year ago celebrated the birth of his first child.”

Mr. Rosilio had been in remission from cancer for 13 years, but he needed help breathing, putting him in one of the most at-risk populations for coronavirus. The father of two young children, he had met his wife at Sheba Hospital, where she was also undergoing treatment for cancer. They met on a hike for cancer survivors.

Hillel International and Masa Israel Journey will hold a Virtual Career Expo online on May 31 (midnight) – June 1 (11:30 p.m.). During the 48-hour event for recent graduates and young alumni, participants will have access to opportunities to network with more than 50 companies and organizations, information on paid and unpaid internship opportunities in the United States and Israel with remote opportunities, and pre-expo workshops hosted by Hillel@Home.

A bipartisan group of members of Congress have introduced a bill to  expand medical partnerships with Israel and “lessen dependence on China.” The bill authorizes funding to develop innovative medical projects aimed at “detecting, treating, and curing Covid-19.

“Our dependence on China for life-saving medications and treatments is deeply problematic,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the sponsors. “By expanding partnerships with Israel – an ally and a global leader in medicine – to develop coronavirus treatments, this legislation is a common sense step to address that threat.”

Sponsors include Chris Coons (D-Del.), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Sens. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education declared May 22-30 Days of Gratitude, a week-long, global initiative designed to “help us lift up our blessings and build our resilience.”

Recommended reading: “Today, Tomorrow, and the Space in Between,” by David Bryfman, CEO of the Jewish Education Project, offers his prognosis on” an essay on the eJewishPhilanthropy website.

Cantor Elizabeth Sternlieb of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester has produced a series of videos for children in pre-K through first grade about the Hebrew language, to “share these as a gift of comfort, connection, learning, and entertainment” during the coronavirus crisis.

Israeli scholar Rabbi David Aaron has recorded a lecture on “How to Make G-d Real in Such Unreal Times.”


Author Yossi Klein Halevi will take part in a Jerusalem Day program sponsored online by the American Jewish Committee on Friday at 11 a.m.

Adding Our Voices will livestream a pre-Shavuot concert for women on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Torah in Motion will hold a Virtual Jewish Medical Ethics 12th International Conference on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, will be in conversation with Mayor of Jerusalem Moishe Lion to discuss Jerusalem Day on Friday at noon.

The Conservative movement’s Israel-based Schechter Institute will hold a Virtual Pre-Shavuot Tikkun [learning program] on Sunday at noon.

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Women’s Brigade will host a virtual National Women’s Event on Wednesday, May 27 at 3 p.m. The event will feature Safra A. Catz, CEO of the Oracle Corporation, who will discuss “The Day After: How Today’s Thinking Can Lead to Tomorrow’s Opportunities.”

UJA-Federation will hold a virtual Community Pre-Shabbat gathering on Friday at 2 p.m. Participants will include CEO Eric Goldstein, scholar-in-residence Rabbi Menachem Creditor, and rabbis Ethan Tucker and David Ingbar.

The JCC of Mid-Westchester will sponsor a webinar on the college admissions process during the era of Covid-19 on May 27 at 7 p.m.

The Shalom Hartman Institute will sponsor a series of pre-Shavuot programs online.

The Orthodox Union and Jerusalem’s Yeshivat HaKotel will hold an online Worldwide Achdus Shavuos Experience on Sunday at 10 a.m.

Rabbi Anchelle Perl, director of Chabad Mineola, will host an online Community Wide Tribute to NYU Winthrop Hospital Employees on Friday at noon. Meeting ID: 845 4054 0430

Artist-educator Audrey Reich will speak at an online Cocktail Hour program on June 4 at 5 p.m. sponsored by the Memory Keepers group of the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center in West Harrison. For information:

Registration is underway for a series of pre-Shavuot Masterclasses offered by the Orthodox Union and NCSY.

Stand With Us sponsors “My Funny Quarantine,” a daily Jewish-themed virtual comedy show hosted by stand-up comic, Monday-Thursday at 9:13 p.m.

Sharsheret will sponsor an art therapy program on June 2 at 8 p.m. for women battling metastatic cancer during the current crisis.

Join The Jewish Week and UJA-Federation for a powerful virtual evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Thursday, June 4, 6:00 PM – 8:00 p.m. Friedman and Andrew Silow-Carroll, The Jewish Week’s editor in chief, will discuss and take questions on the domestic and global ramifications of the coronavirus crisis and other international affairs challenges. The event is free, but you must register here.