Greater New Orleans Jewish community COVID-19 Response Initiative

 

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans, and the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana have partnered with a number of area synagogues to create a Jewish community response helpline program for problems related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
 
Our collective goal is to provide connection during a time of distance, as well as practical assistance (food, supplies, and prescription pick up for those who need it). These efforts are not intended to duplicate emergency or crisis services. In the case of an emergency, please call 911 (for a medical emergency) or 211 (for a mental health emergency).
 

Here are the details:
 
What: Jewish Community Response Volunteer Initiative
 
Who’s eligible: Members of a Jewish household who currently reside in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. Charles, Washington, Tangipahoa, St. Helena, Livingston, and St. Bernard parishes
 
How: Call or email the helpline (at one of the options listed below) and carefully follow the directions provided. You should receive a response within 48 hours, except during Shabbat and Jewish holidays. A volunteer will be in touch to coordinate addressing your need, whether it’s picking up a grocery order or just having someone with whom to talk.
 
Helpline options:

 


All questions should be directed through the helpline.

Interested in volunteering with our COVID-19 response program?

COVID-19 Community Updates

 

Greater New Orleans Jewish community announcements | April 2, 2020

The Jewish Federation takes seriously our role as the umbrella organization of the Greater New Orleans community, and this week we convened a task force comprised of medical professionals, clergy, Federation staff, and representatives from area agencies to serve as a centralized sounding board for our community. They are closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 in our region, especially as it impacts events, meetings, and potential structure closures. On the whole, the task force is advising pragmatic social distancing mechanisms, such as:

 

  • Meetings via videoconference or teleconference when possible

  • Strongly encouraging employees and community members who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms of an illness to stay at home from work, services, meetings, and events

  • Postponement of large scale events where possible

 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have created an educational webpage, which you may find helpful in creating your household plan for mitigating risk.


Community announcements will be updated on this page daily.

New Orleans Volunteer Opportunities

A note from NOLA Ready

 

HandsOn New Orleans, Second Harvest Food Bank, Nola Tree Project, and the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) are organizing to provide critical support to New Orleanians who have been affected by COVID19.

 

We invite you to be part of these efforts to support residents in need through these challenging times. HandsOn New Orleans, Second Harvest Food Bank, and NOLA Tree Project are looking for volunteers to help with a variety of tasks related to food distribution efforts to vulnerable residents in need of meals and supplies. For more information about these volunteer opportunities and to sign up, click here.

 

We are also building a network of volunteers to support public health and medical efforts during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Volunteers may be used for a variety of clinical and non-clinical tasks under the direction of the New Orleans Health Department and the State of Louisiana Department of Health. This is a volunteer position. If you have a medical or behavioural health background, please register to volunteer here!

Agency Announcements

Hadassah

As per our previous communications, please be advised that all national and local face to face meetings and events are to be suspended until April 30th.  Where possible, please meet on the phone or online.  As already shared with you, at that time we will reassess the situation to determine the direction we feel is appropriate in the interest of everyone’s health and safety.

 

Jewish Children's Regional Service

First and foremost, JCRS is concerned about the health and welfare of all Jewish children and families within our seven-state region and across the country and globe. Over our 165 years of service, JCRS has helped families navigate through challenging times - be that financial, health, or natural disaster.

 

We have already been in touch with all of our College Aid recipients and are monitoring the landscape of Jewish sleep-away summer camps for potential delays.

 

Should you need to access JCRS programs and services, email our office at info@jcrs.org or call (800)729-5277. PJ Library books will continue to be delivered without  interruption.

 

The following programs have been cancelled:

PJ Our Way  Community Book Discussion on The Six Day Hero (Scheduled for April 5)
 

Here is a link for Jewish families of young children who are social distancing / sheltering in place:

 

Jewish Community Center

Maintaining the health and safety of the entire JCC community is our highest priority. The JCC management and Board closed all facilities at 5:00 PM on March 13, 2020. On Friday, March 13 we were informed that an individual who visited the Uptown JCC earlier in the week tested positive for COVID-19. Upon hearing this news, we notified the Louisiana Department of Health. Medical experts tell us that the only way to stop the spread of this virus is to distance ourselves from people, and the best way to do this is to close our facilities.
 
Please know that we did not make this decision without careful research and conversation with trusted medical advisors. Everyone at the JCC knows how big a part of the community we have been for decades and understands that this closure will be disruptive. We only wish we had a safe solution to continue to remain open as we all face this current health crisis. At this point we anticipate a two-week closure. Please understand the situation is fluid and evolving. This timeline may change as more information becomes available from the CDC and local health professionals. Please look for continuing updates on our website at nojcc.org/alerts
 

Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana

The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana Board and staff have been closely monitoring the rapid progression of COVID-19 on a local, national and global level. In the midst of this growing health crisis, we have decided to take an important, proactive step to assist in the containment of this pandemic. Beginning Monday, March 16, all JEF staff began working from home until further notice. We are very mindful of the need for social distancing and the need to minimize risk at this time.

 

The entire JEF staff presently has the technology in place to implement a work-from-home plan, allowing us to do everything remotely, albeit with some limited capabilities, in order to support our donors and the wider community through this ever-evolving situation. This is unprecedented ground for our team and we apologize for any delays that may occur.  We certainly appreciate your understanding. If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to contact Executive Director Bobby Garon at: 

 

Amid our health concerns regarding the coronavirus, we know the current market conditions are also on all our minds. We greatly value your investment in the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana and feel it is important to reach out to our family of fundholders during these challenging times. Throughout this uncertain and fluid period, we want you to know that we are making every effort to safeguard and ensure the long-term health of our funds.

 

JEF’s Investment Policy combines both the preservation of principal and moderate risk-taking. With that in mind, JEF’s portfolio is a balanced one: the range of equities is maintained between 55% and 65% of the total value of the fund with the central tendency being 60%. The portfolio is designed with a long-term outlook in mind so that the funds are here in perpetuity. Although the days are volatile, it is very much business as usual for us. We have a contingency plan for remote operations and will let you know when we do implement our work-from-home procedures. We will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and provide reports as necessary. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact Executive Director Bobby Garon at bobby@jefno.org or 504-495-5755. 

 

Jewish Family Service

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans is closely monitoring the global coronavirus pandemic and the effects of COVID-19 on our community. We are taking proactive steps to prepare for potential impacts to our agency and clients. Our first priority is maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our clients and staff. We are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations. In addition, we ask that clients experiencing the following symptoms remain at home:
 
 fever, cough, or other flu-like symptoms
 have traveled recently to countries/regions known to have positive cases of
coronavirus in the last 14 days
 have had contact with someone confirmed to have the coronavirus disease
 
JFS is making arrangements to continue our programming to the fullest extent possible while following any directives from local, state, and national health organizations. Our staff are preparing a variety of tools and materials to help individuals manage the stress and anxiety associated with the pandemic.
 
In addition, we are suspending the volunteer assembly and distribution aspect of our Bruce Levy Memorial 2020 JFS Passover Food Basket Program, scheduled for April 5. Recipients will still obtain their box of Passover food; however, volunteers will not be used to pack or deliver. JFS will send detailed information about obtaining Passover food baskets to recipients in the coming weeks.
 
JFS is prepared to continue to provide you with assistance even if you are unable to come to JFS! Please be in touch to discuss your ongoing needs. Please call 504-831-8475. We urge you to heed warnings from local, state, and national health organizations to modify your behavior. We all have a part to play in helping stop the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our communities, especially vulnerable populations. JFS has also created a resource page: https://jfsneworleans.org/covid19/

 

National Council of Jewish Women

NCJW has postponed our Gala, scheduled for March 28, 2020.  A new date has not yet been selected.

 

Tulane Hillel

We have all personally felt the impact of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and understand the feelings of uncertainty the virus is causing across our community – both on campus and back home. As communication is a priority, we will continue to be in touch with our various stakeholders as our plans develop in the coming days and weeks. Here is the message that we sent to our students last week.

 

In March, we received notification from President Fitts that Tulane University is transitioning to virtual classrooms and encouraging social distancing. As of this morning, under University and City of New Orleans guidance, the Tulane Hillel Team will begin working remotely. You can read here for more information on New Orleans restrictions, including efforts such as limiting social gatherings, closing bars and casinos, and creating more stringent restaurant guidelines. However, we want to assure you that we remain available to our community and our students, and our contact information can be found here.

 

We have every intention to serve as a resource to you and our students as we experience these uncertain times together. As our top priority is the health and safety of our community, the COVID-19 outbreak will impact many of the Hillel programs that were planned for the rest of spring semester. Our Hillel Team has already begun to pivot and explore the development of new ways to provide Jewish community, value, and meaning for our students, friends, and families from afar.

Synagogue Announcements

Anshe Sfard Synagogue

Anshe Sfard will not hold services or events until further notice.

 

Chabad of Louisiana

Chabad of Louisiana will be distributing 300 packs of Shmura Matzah to members of the NOLA Jewish community next week. We will use proper safety precautions for delivery and handling. If anyone would like to be included in that recipient list, please email mendel@chabadneworleans.com. If any would like to volunteer to assist with the delivery, please email mendel@chabadneworleans.com

 

After careful consideration, along with Rabbinic consultation and the advice of healthcare professionals, Chabad of Louisiana has decided to temporarily suspend our communal prayer services. This applies to both the morning minyan at Chabad Uptown and the afternoon minyan at Chabad Metairie, as well as the Shabbat services at both locations. The health of our community members and anyone with whom they may come into contact is paramount. We eagerly anticipate the time when, with Hashem's help, we will once again be able to regularly gather as a community in prayer and Torah study. In an effort to stay connected, we will do a pilot test of gathering online at 8:30 am tomorrow morning, March 18, to pray together using Facebook live. If you are interested please email Rabbi Mendel Rivkin at mendel@chabadneworleans.com. 

 

If you know of people who are elderly or infirm, please take extra interest in helping them with their needs, such as shopping for supplies and the like. There are resources out there for people that need help. Reach out to us if you do!  

 

Several local Facebook live events have sprung up as a result of this situation. Malkie Rivkin has been doing a nightly gathering at 9 pm (CDT) and Chabad of Metairie has been doing a daily stream at 2 pm. More will be coming. We also assembled select prayers as well as other resources, including a free quarantine Kaddish service, for those that cannot make it to synagogue.

 

Please visit our ever expanding section on our website at www.ChabadNewOrleans.com/coronavirus.

 

Congregation Beth Israel

A large part of our community is within the range the CDC declares high risk.  We have spoken to the Region Director for the State Department of Health.  He told us that communal gatherings are discouraged. Therefore, to promote the health and well-being of the community, we are canceling all in-person shul activities effective immediately through at least March 30.  This cancellation includes all social gatherings and services. Rabbi Josh's classes will move exclusively online for the time being. We are working to coordinate streamable, pre-shabbat Kabbalat Shabbat and post-Shabbat Havdallah services to offer as soon as tomorrow. 

 

Rabbi Josh Pernick has created a "Taste of Talmud" class that will run via Zoom from 4:00-5:00 p.m., Monday-Thursday for the duration of our social distancing (open to anyone). How do we maintain our faith in a light at the end of the tunnel when we don't know how long the tunnel runs? This question is not new in our moment; it's one that has been grappled with in almost every generation of our people's history. This question is the unstated backdrop to the first tractate of the Talmud, the central formative text which created the Rabbinic Judaism that we practice today.
 
Join Rabbi Josh Pernick of Congregation Beth Israel for a daily discussion of Tractate Brachot. Through learning this text together, we will explore how the early rabbis maintained their faith in the future during some of the darkest days in our people's history, and will consider how their theological reflections resonate in ours. No prior background in Jewish learning of any kind required.
 
This learning group will be meeting exclusively via Zoom (or phone), Monday-Thursday from 3:00-4:00 pm. 

To Join Online, Click the Link Below:
https://zoom.us/j/951951462

To Join From Your Phone, Click the Link Below:
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,951951462# US

To Call In (If the Other Options Aren't Working) Dial the Number Below:
        +1 312 626 6799 US 
Meeting ID: 951 951 462

 

Congregation Gates of Prayer

Given recent guidance from local, state, and federal agencies, we have decided to continue to remain dark until at least April 30, 2020. To maintain the safety of our Temple staff, the office will remain closed until that time. Our staff is available via telephone and email to answer your questions and provide limited assistance. Shabbat services as well as other programming will resume Friday, April 17, 2020. J-Flex programming will resume Saturday, April 18, 2020, with their J-Flex Shabbat program. Please remember all of the above dates are tentative as we continue to monitor the situation. Please consult the Temple website and Facebook page for updates.

 

All videos are accessible via Congregation Gates of Prayer's Facebook Group.. However, if you would like to participate in the programming (or you aren't on Facebook), please use the Zoom link. We will be casting the Zoom feed to the Group's Facebook Live. HERE is a link to a helpful Zoom tutorial for those who are unfamiliar. 

 

Northshore Jewish Congregation

NJC is investigating streaming services for future Shabbats, and will update the community. For now, there will be no religious school, no confirmation class, and no Hebrew school. Additionally, the synagogue garage sale has been postponed.

 

Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation

After evaluating all available information, in consultation with our Health Committee, and out of an abundance of concern for our congregants, we have decided to cancel all religious services and religious school. We will continue to monitor events as they evolve and make any necessary adjustments that are warranted. Since we will be relying on technology quite a bit over the next few weeks, please stay in contact with anyone you know who may use a computer on a limited basis. Although we may not be able to “touch hands,” we can still reach out personally to look after each other. Let’s commit to taking extra care of one other. By doing so, we can shine light in what might seem like dark moments. Please contact the synagogue office if you have to self-quarantine for any reason so assistance can be offered.

 

Temple Sinai

Our first and foremost concerns are the health and well-being of our families, individuals, staff, and community. We believe strongly in our need to help save lives and to support the measures of our city, state, and national leaders to protect our communities and slow down the spread of the coronavirus. There is no value more important in Judaism than that of saving lives. In that spirit, we have decided that it is time effectively to close the Temple except for minimal access. There will be no more public gatherings or meetings at Temple until we have been advised that it is safe to reopen. All in-person classes, committee meetings, meals, and more are temporarily suspended. Chavurah@Sinai and Hebrew School classes are indefinitely canceled for now.

To make services more participatory, our prayerbook - Mishkan T'filah - is available as a flip-book through CCAR Press. You can access it online here. Services are being streamed here: https://templesinainola.com/worship/live-services-archive/. If you would rather hold a prayerbook in your hands, we invite you to drop by Temple to check one out this afternoon at the front door between 2-4pm.

 

Reminder: Shabbat services are ONLY available online. The doors will be locked and no one will be admitted.  At this time, we want to encourage everyone to follow the public safety restrictions and to practice social distancing.  We want everyone to stay safe and healthy - we must all do our part.

 

Our Temple staff will continue to be present and work in the building. If you need to reach us, please contact us by phone or email. Please do not plan on simply dropping by the Temple - we urge you to call ahead. For the time being, we will not hold public Shabbat worship services. We are planning to live-stream services on our website on both Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. We are checking our systems and trying to correct any potential flaws so that everyone can participate from home. If you are observing a yahrzeit, please contact the Temple office or clergy to discuss options. Torah Study has been canceled for now.

 

We are also looking ahead at upcoming events. Unfortunately, we feel the need to cancel the congregational Second Night of Passover Seder on Thursday, April 9. We will make seder materials and resources available online. We are also looking into making seder meals available for purchase at Temple to be picked up and taken home.

 

Touro Synagogue

As your clergy, we are committed to supporting you during this time. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you would like to make an appointment to talk, or if you are in search of resources for your own spiritual fortification. While we are unable to make in-person pastoral visits, we will make ourselves available via phone, email, Zoom, and other virtual platforms.  

 

For those with planned lifecycle events scheduled during the near-term, we are committed to working with you thoughtfully and sensitively while we discuss options and come up with alternative plans. We have been in touch with many of you already, and will soon be in touch with others. We will officiate funerals in accordance with best practices for health and safety, utilizing our streaming capabilities whenever possible so that communal mourning may take place without additional risk to everyone’s health.

 

If you are in need of supplies or food, please click here so that our Caring and Mitzvah Committee can do our best to connect you to resources. 

 

If you are willing to add your efforts to our Caring and Mitzvah Committee which will be working to support congregants in need during this particularly difficult time, please email Lisa Keleher.

 

Shabbat Services are a central part of Touro Synagogue’s identity, and we will continue to celebrate Shabbat together via livestream. While we cannot fully capture the feeling of being surrounded by voices in the Forgotston Chapel or our magnificent sanctuary or sharing a meal around the table in the Grant Meyer Garden Pavilion, the livestream gives us the opportunity to continue offering Shabbat services as a time when we can gather together. Some of those community-building elements will come instead through other modes of engagement.

 

Looking ahead, we are currently planning a virtual Passover Seder for the evening of Thursday, April 9. Unfortunately, we will not be able to celebrate Jazz Fest Shabbat this year. More information about Passover and Jazz Fest Shabbat will be forthcoming. 

 

It will be important to match our adult learning and other forms of engagement with the rapidly shifting needs of our community. Some adult learning will continue via Zoom as previously scheduled, while we also pursue new options that match our priorities and best fit the strengths of technology. Adult learning that creates a chance for communal connection will be prioritized. As this is new for our clergy and congregants alike, it will be important to be patient and adaptive, especially in the first few weeks.

 

We currently have prayer books available for pickup during business hours. Please call the Touro office at (504) 895-4843 to make arrangements.

 

Keeping our families connected to and engaged by Touro Synagogue, the clergy, and each other is our highest priority for the remainder of this school year.  While it seems increasingly unlikely that in-person classes will resume before next fall, we are dedicated to providing consistent, meaningful Jewish learning opportunities for all students in all age groups; each and every one of them will continue to have the chance to learn, discuss, sing, practice, and do Judaism from home.  We have contacted Religious School and Uptown Hebrew Families directly about the specifics of this continuous learning. Our amazing Religious School faculty is busy preparing to foster community building and continued learning in a myriad of creative ways, and we are grateful for their flexibility and commitment. 

 

For our youngest congregants and their families, the clergy will be creating Zoom Shabbat Rocks! services and other learning modules to entertain, inspire, and connect.  Please expect links in upcoming emails for this weekend’s Zoom Shabbat Rocks!. We are also working on outlets for our teens to both continue their learning and to take leadership roles in the facilitation of some of our younger-children offerings. Finally, we are grateful to Anna Herman and Henry S. Jacobs Camp for providing HSJ 365 for wonderful camp family fun at home.

School Announcements

Jewish Community Day School

JCDS is going to commit to our distance learning model during this time. Break is scheduled to begin April 8th and run the length of Passover, with students returning to school on April 20th.  We won't send home any required coursework for the break, but teachers will provide you with enrichment materials you can use to keep the kids in their routine, completely at your option. A return on April 20th, of course, is still subject to factors beyond our immediate control, just as if circumstances were to allow an earlier return, we would revisit this date. This timing aligns with the state closure scheduled to end mid-Passover, as well as the actions of peer schools in town.

 

JCDS will host our first live online Kabbalat Shabbat this week at 2:30 on Friday, March 27. Attendance is voluntary but strongly encouraged. We'll be joined by our frequent Kabbalat Shabbat guest Rabbi Gerber from Gates of Prayer, and we'll also get a live performance from the very talented Ms. Maddy from the Devorim room (check out her song on our Facebook page). Here is the Zoom meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/894018501 (I will send again Friday morning). If you don't have challah and juice at the ready on Friday, just bring whatever you have handy for Hamotzi and Kiddush. 

 

We will also be moving online for our Model Passover Seder on April 7th. You'll be receiving a PDF of the school Haggadah, and details of the event, including the exact time, will be forthcoming.

 

While both Kabbalat Shabbat and Model Seder have been PK-6 events in the past, Green Preschool families, Board members, and grandparents are encouraged to join in for these all-community events!

 

One thing teaching through Katrina taught me is that while kids are surprisingly resilient, adults often struggle with a broader knowledge of the challenges we face. This link will take you directly to the mental health resources section of the Jewish Family Service COVID-19 response page. One organization listed there is even offering free telehealth counseling.

 

Our school counselor, Margaret Winston, is also available as a resource. She is best reached at margaret@jfsneworleans.org.

 

Devorim aftercare teacher Ms. Ana has also shared some resources you might find useful:

Click here for Psychology Today's list of mindfulness apps that have meditations for kids. 

Click here for access to HiMama's resource page. For those so inclined, Ms. Ana also shared that recordings from a 2018 resilience/mindfulness summit can be accessed here.

 

Torah Academy

Governor Edwards has mandated all K-12 public schools to close. Several private schools have already closed as well. We expect that the rest of the private schools will follow suit. In an abundance of caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we will be closing beginning this Monday, March 16th. We know this will not be easy for our families, especially those with young preschool children, and we do not take this consideration lightly. As of now, school will be set to re-open on Monday, April 20, 2020. However, we will be continually monitoring the situation for any possible changes to our closure. To self-report any cases of COVID-19, please email admin@torahacademynola.com. This will help us make informed judgments as to when to consider re-opening safely.

Online learning in a thoughtful, developmentally appropriate way, will begin for all classes Robins through middle school on Wednesday, March 18th. We are currently preparing our teachers and students for this transition to online learning using Zoom video conferencing and Google Classroom as well as many other online resources. Please be on the lookout for a follow up email with the exact plan that ensures the continuity of learning. Elementary students will bring home many of their school learning materials today in preparation for the switch to online learning. 

Please take the time to fill out this survey today regarding your family's preparedness for online learning. 
https://forms.gle/RTpLnynQmZjQgTkj9

For the latest information and resources on COVID-19, families are encouraged to visit:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirus  
City of New Orleans: ready.nola.gov

Thank you for your understanding and ongoing commitment to making the safety of our students, staff, and school community a priority. If you have any questions, please reach out to us.
rchesney@torahacademynola.com
nsmith@torahacademynola.com
 

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