Nationally, in recent days and weeks, Agudath Israel of America has received concurrent reports of an uptick in COVID-19 cases in communities in Lakewood, Cleveland, Rockland County, Five Towns, Brooklyn, Passaic, and Baltimore. With yeshivos imminently reopening for the school year, it is critical to bring this trend under control.

For months, COVID-19 rates in many areas have, boruch Hashem, been low. But our communities are tight-knit and closely linked. Therefore, trends within our communities must be closely and holistically monitored, and every community must remain vigilant to protect all our communities. Kol Yisroel areivim zeh ba’zeh.

Many of the cases nationally have been traced to large simcha gatherings. Such events carry particular risk because they:

· Bring many people together;
· From different geographic areas;
· Are often loud, requiring shouting (which emits more particles) and close proximity to communicate;
· Masks cannot be worn while eating;
· Social distancing is difficult; and
· Are typically held indoors in a confined space.

Simchos are wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime events. But we must conduct them legally and safely. We must minimize the above factors to protect all our communities, especially as we desperately seek to reopen our yeshivos, daven b’tzibbur, keep our communities safe, and return to a sense of normalcy. Simchos that spread illness and do not conform to local laws should not be allowed to jeopardize that.

Indeed, any public gathering should minimize as many of the above listed factors as possible.

Please help stem this recent uptick in several of our communities from becoming anything worse, chas v’shalom.

Agudath Israel of America wishes all of Klal Yisroel a k’siva vachasima tova, a new year filled with Hashem’s abundant blessings of good health, brocha and hatzlocha.