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.
Before resuming communal Davening, the OU/RCA guidance required both a clear flattening of the curve and a verified safe period of 14 days following communal reopening to assess whether there will be a significant surge of new cases as other parts of society are released from mitigation.
This guidance remains in place. We continue to advise delaying 14 days prior to the opening of any Minyanim.
Our Poskim and our medical advisors imposed this guideline because a downward trajectory of illness during the lock down period itself does not reflect what may occur upon reopening. Reopening a community is an experiment to determine whether the downward trajectory will continue even after people begin to circulate significantly. The opinion of our Poskim is that Pikuach Nefesh concerns dictate that the return to communal Davening wait until after the experiment of reopening has been conducted successfully for two weeks, without a rise in disease.
This caution should of course be exercised not only regarding Minyanim, but for other new government allowances as well. All activities must be approached with appropriate caution.
We restate that due to the variety of experience and data between communities, there can be no “one size fits all” national schedule for reopening. The rabbinic and medical leadership of shuls and communities should determine local policy in consultation and coordination with local public health officials, meeting and exceeding their standards.
This statement was written with the guidance of our Poskim, Harav Hershel Schachter שליט”א and Harav Mordechai Willig שליט”א. It has been reviewed and supported by Harav Dovid Cohen שליט”א and Harav Asher Weiss שליט”א.
The situation continues to evolve and thus these recommendations and guidelines are based solely on currently available information and advice.
We share our community’s deep desire to return to communal Davening and to shul life. It is our sincere hope and prayer that our decisions maximize both communal safety and our service of Hashem, יהי רצון שתשרה שכינה במעשה ידינו ויהי נועם ד’ אלקינו עלינו.