Cuomo eases synagogue restrictions, Russian chief rabbi has Covid


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that houses of worship in most of the state can reopen on a limited scale.

Cuomo issued an executive order on Saturday permitting the opening of houses of worship in areas designated as phase two of the state reopening plan, which includes all of the state except for New York City, JTA reports. The buildings will be required to operate at 25 percent of their usual capacity and employ appropriate social distancing and disinfecting protocols.

“We’re going to open the valve more than we originally anticipated because the metrics are so good,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing.

On Friday, 35 people in New York died with the COVID-19 virus, down from a high of 800 some eight weeks ago.

Reopening houses of worship had originally been slated for stage four or reopening. Some have called for a quicker reopening, noting that protests now unfolding against racism and police brutality have gathered thousands of demonstrators who are not social distancing.

About two weeks ago, the governor allowed services to resume with 10 worshippers or less, and strongly advised that the services be held out of doors.

Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar is hospitalized in Moscow after contracting Covid-19, the Federation of Jewish Communities in the former Soviet Union said in a post on Facebook. The 56-year-old rabbi is reportedly in good condition and is only showing mild symptoms, according to a statement from the rabbi’s office.

In March, Itzkhak Kogan, rabbi of a synagogue in Moscow, was hospitalized after contracting Covid-19, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

Israel is not experiencing a second coronavirus wave because the first never ended, and the current rate of infection is not a reason for alarm, senior health experts told the Jerusalem Post. “This is still the first wave,” Assuta Ashdod Medical Center deputy director Dr. Hadar Marom said. “Until recently, Israel kept people at home, which allowed us to minimize the percentage of the population that got contaminated with the virus. However, when we started to mitigate the closure, we started to see that there are still people in our population who have the virus. Some of them are not sick, but they have the virus, and they can spread it to other people.”

As of yesterday, Israel had 2,440 active coronavirus cases, a number that has increased each day for about a week. But Assuta Medical Center chairman Shuki Shemer said he was not surprised by the spike because it is commensurate to the increased number of people screened for coronavirus each day.

Israel has donated a shipment of wheelchairs to Ecuador, one of the South American countries hit the hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, the Jerusalem Post reports. The donation was made by the Israeli Embassy in Ecuador, and was given to Jorge Yunda, mayor of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito.

The Boro Park Jewish Community Council is providing a robot to help Holocaust survivors cope with the social isolation caused by the new coronavirus crisis. In conjunction with United Task Force, the council teamed with the Israeli tech company, Intuition Robotics, to launch a pilot program that offers ElliQ, a social robot, which interacts with these seniors, who must have Wi-Fi at home to be eligible.  For information:

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Lookstein aids virtual learning at Jewish schools.” The Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan has served as a pioneer in developing programs to educate students and teachers with “unique e-learning,” which has become a necessity during the current pandemic, the Jewish Star reports.

Do Jewish Organizations Still Need Offices?” Writes David Bernstein, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, “Can we utilize occasional physical space or shared space with other organizations where we come together when it makes sense? How would we utilize the savings from doing away with our own physical office space?”


Artist Miriam Stern from Teaneck, N.J. is having an online art sale from June 7-14 to raise money to feed the hungry. All proceeds from the sale of original, signed monoprints will go to the buyers’ choice from four charities: Leket Israel, Mazon, Tomchei Shabbos of Bergen County and Center for Food Action, Englewood, N.J. All donations are 100% tax deductible.

The Jewish Learning Experience initiative is offering children cooking experience in an online Kids In The Kitchen program on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. It is designed for children ages 3-10, with instruction in making such items as chocolate babka, latkes and hamantaschen.

Tamid-the Downtown Synagogue will sponsor a webinar on Tuesday at 8 p.m. with the Rev. Mark Bozzuti-Jones, who will discuss the role that faith communities can play in this time of necessary change. Password: 612047

Rabbi Peter Rubinstein of the 92nd Street Y will take part in an online discussion on Monday at 3 p.m. with the Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff, pastor emeritus of the Canaan Baptist Church of Harlem,  on the topic, “Building Bridges: Is It Possible?”

The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan on Monday at 6 p.m. will host Broadway’s Best for Breast Cancer, a free virtual series offered every Monday night this month. Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez and the JCC’s Caroline Kohles will discuss coping with cancer amid Covid-19.

Sharsheret will host a webinar on Monday at 3 p.m. featuring medical updates on lifting Covid-19 restrictions from Dr. Jane Carleton, associate chief of Clinical Affairs at the Monter Cancer Center of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute.

A six-week Conversational Yiddish Online Course on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. starts this week. It features the curricula and materials developed by Columbia University Professor Miriam Hoffman and the direction of her son, actor and professor Avi Hoffman.

Qesher, an online educational program that teaches about Jewish communities around the world, is offered on Sundays at 1 p.m. Bulgaria is the subject of the next session. For information:

The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement and American Sephardi Federation on Tuesday at 1 p.m. will sponsor an online program, “How Muslims and Jews Can Combat Anti-Semitism Together,” featuring a dialogue with Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa,  secretary-general of the Muslim World League.

MASHAV, the Israeli International Development & Cooperation Agency, will offer an online lecture on Organizational Change Management in Challenging Times on Tuesday at 7 a.m. (2 p.m. Israeli time). The lecturer will be Paulette Woolf, an independent consultant in organizational change management.

Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer will discuss her book “Heavenly Sex: Sexuality and the Jewish Tradition” in an online event sponsored by American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Jewish National Fund will hold A Day of Giving from Coast to Coast, the organization’s “biggest day in fundraising,” on YouTube and Facebook Live on Sunday at noon. It will feature comedian Elon Gold, athlete Mark Spitz, Senator Joseph Lieberman, and other celebrities.