NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – There are bar and bat mitzvahs canceled this weekend. A family sitting shiva for a deceased loved one who can't accept some visitors. There are the sick among them, including their rabbi.
The families and congregants of Young Israel of New Rochelle are in the midst of an extraordinary and serious situation, with about 1,000 people associated with the tightly knit community under precautionary quarantine for as many as 14 days because of coronavirus.
For the orthodox Jewish community that mainly lives around the temple, it has meant not being able to attend daily services, or leave to go to the store, or to work, or to school.
The members, though, and community leaders said the congregants have been steadfast in their resolve to abide by the quarantine in order to keep themselves and others safe.
"Our community has gone to great lengths to respect our state, county and city authorities and to accept their guidance for the benefit of not only our own safety, but of the health and safety of people around us," said Mark Semer, a past president of Young Israel.
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The rabbi wrote to members on Friday morning to confirm his diagnosis.
"I have the virus and am doing reasonably well," his message, posted on The Yeshiva World, said.
"But I must caution all of you who have had personal contact with me to seek counsel from your health practitioner as to how to proceed."
He asked the congregation, which has about 400 families, to show patience, noting their Jewish teachings.
"This circumstance certainly gives us the opportunity to think. Our attention turns to mortality and our vulnerability," he wrote.
"We sometimes find ourselves victims of life’s fragility and tentativeness. This is one of those times. It can help us to reorient our ultimate goals in life. Contemplation is good for the soul."
Local and state leaders have praised the cooperativeness, saying they have received the full support of the congregation. The temple is closed through at least Sunday.
Of the 44 coronavirus cases in New York, most are connected in one way to the synagogue after the first case, a congregant and lawyer, was first diagnosed Tuesday and remains in the hospital.
Overall, about 4,000 New Yorkers are under a "precautionary quarantine," meaning they have been encouraged to stay in their homes and not leave, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said late Friday.
"A quarantine at a minimum is deeply disruptive, and you layer on top of that concern for the health of one’s family, the health of neighbors, the health of friends," New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said.
"At the same time, I have been enormously impressed by the strength and the resiliency of the community. There has been no panic."
On Tuesday, the Westchester County health department said it directed the temple to halt all services due to potential COVID-19 exposure after the lawyer tested positive.
The virus appears to have spread after the man had attended services and a bat mitzvah at the temple in late February when he was unaware of his condition. He is now intensive care at a New York City hospital.
The county said those who attended those events, which appears to be hundreds of people, must self-quarantine until at Sunday, but state officials said some quarantines will remain in place for 14 days.
"There has been a calm acceptance of direction from public health authorities," Bramson said.
"Neighbors have come together to support each other and have really demonstrated a level of resilience and maturity that speaks very well of everyone involved."
The quarantine has prompted other temples in Westchester to reorganize some events. Some temples have cancelled celebrations around the Jewish holiday of Purim, which starts Monday.
Others have offered online streaming of their services, said Elliot Forchheimer, the CEO of the Westchester Jewish Council. Other discretionary events have been postponed.
"Obviously the Orthodox community and the Westchester community is a very close knit community; it’s a very small community," Forchheimer said.
"There will be a whole lot less walking traffic this Shabbat because the synagogue is closed. People will be staying at home. You can pray at home. You can pray privately."
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This article originally appeared on New York State Team: New Rochelle synagogue shows 'resilience' amid coronavirus quarantine