Dear Members and Friends of the Westwood Village Synagogue,

We wanted to reach out to you again regarding the status of community efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, and to detail ways in which you can be a part of this effort.

First, some good news: the WVS member who had been self-quarantining has received results of their COVID-19 test, and the results are negative. It is likely that the person had a chest cold, and all of those symptoms have now passed. We are happy that they did not have COVID-19 and that they are back in good health.

As you are no doubt aware, all of us have been hearing urgent messages from our elected officials and Department of Health representatives asking us to eliminate communal gatherings and to minimize in-person contact to the greatest degree possible. This is the best and surest way to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in our city. It will literally save lives and will prevent our local hospitals from becoming overwhelmed to the point of having to turn patients away.

For this reason, we are continuing to keep our shul closed. Shul leadership is in constant contact with medical professionals in our community and is formally meeting with them by telephone each week to ensure that we continue to follow best practices.

In accordance with the great majority of the Los Angeles Orthodox Jewish community, we are abiding by, and hope you abide by, the following policies, which have been adopted by shuls and schools community-wide. It is vitally important, and a matter of Pikuah Nefesh, life and death, that everyone in our community abide by these policies:

  1. The Westwood Village Synagogue will remain closed until further notice, when we are informed by the health officials that it is no longer a danger and we may resume our regular schedules. Until that time, every person should daven at home. There should be no house or backyard Minyanim since they undermine efforts to minimize the spread of the virus.
  2. We should all add Avinu Malkeinu at both Shachrit and Mincha until further notice. It should not be added on Friday afternoons or on a day when Tachanun is not said.
  3. All members of our community should minimize in-person contact with anyone outside of their immediate families. If you can work from home, please do so. Visits even among families should also be limited. Communication with parents and grandparents who are not living in your home should be virtual whenever possible.
  4. Although it is challenging in the absence of school, there should be no playdates or friend get togethers. One may play in the yard and go for a run, but it should not be with friends or with children of friends. We encourage people to go outside, but to stay distanced from other people even when outdoors.
  5. As social distancing continues, we should plan to have our Shabbat, Yom Tov and Sedarim without guests.
  6. “Shiva visits” should be made by phone or facetime.
  7. Support our Kosher restaurants by ordering out from the restaurants. Avoid eating in the confined spaces of restaurants, which can lead to greater transmission.
  8. Only one person per household should go to the Supermarket. Children should not go to the store and people should not be socializing while in the store.
  9. Any person who has had exposure (defined as being within 6-8 feet for a period of 10 minutes or more) to someone who has tested positive should immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. People without any symptoms who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient should not at this time seek medical attention or seek to get tested. They should self-quarantine. Please note that while the official DoH position requires quarantine after exposure only if the person has begun to have symptoms, we strongly advise to err on the side of caution based on the advice of the aforementioned two physicians.
  10. Call your doctor if you start to have symptoms (increased congestion, coughing or fevers). Seek emergency medical treatment if you have difficulty breathing, but please do not go to the emergency room if you do not need emergency care. Call ahead if possible and advise health care workers of possible exposure to COVID-19. Ask for a facemask as you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
  11. If you have a primary care physician/provider, contact your primary care provider to see if testing would be helpful (e.g. to prevent further spread via personal contacts, household or otherwise). Your primary care provider can then refer to this link — (see the fourth section: “Laboratory Testing.”) If you do not have a primary care physician/provider, and need a COVID-19 test, enter your zip code to find out the nearest COVID-19 test site. (from US website) Go to clinics instead of crowded large facilities. (Testing and Treatments are free.)
  12. Any member of our community who has tested positive must immediately inform family and friends (or any acquaintances if applicable) who may have been exposed to him or her. This includes informing Rabbi Bouskila. If it is a child, or if you are a parent of a child in school, please also inform the head of the affected school.
  13. We encourage helping the general public by donating to community charities of your choice. Please also remember to generously support Maot Chittim campaigns.

We at the Westwood Village Shul recognize that many in our community are unable to leave their homes because they are elderly and/or have compromised immune systems. If you need help obtaining supplies, please reach out to Rachel [deletion for privacy]. Likewise, if you are healthy and would like to volunteer to shop for food for the elderly and sick members of our community, please contact Rachel.

During these most challenging times when we all pray that Hashem accept our Tefilot, we encourage everyone to daven with exceptional Kavanah, even though we are not meeting in our shul for Tefilah B’Tzibur. We also ask you to set time for learning Torah and for doing Chessed.  Please be sure to watch your emails and join Rabbi Bouskila for the various shiurim he will be offering online. It’s a great way to keep us all connected.

We wish a refuah shleima to all who are ill.

Rabbi Daniel Bouskila

Beth A. Fox, President

[March 16, 2020]