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March 30, 2020 8:04 am

Major Orthodox Groups Urge Jews to Limit Passover Prep to Just the ‘Essentials’

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Matzah. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – Leaders of six major Orthodox organizations released a joint statement last week asking Jews to limit preparations for Passover to only essentials as a further measure against the health threat presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We are accustomed to honoring Pesach to the fullest degree, including taking haircuts, purchasing new clothing and tableware, and preparing the fullest menu,” said the organizations, including Agudath Israel of America, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, the Lakewood (New Jersey) Vaad, the National Council of Young Israel, the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America. “This year’s public health crisis mandates us to significantly limit all of the above.”

Jewish community members are asked to refrain from any “non-essential outside interactions,” including in-store shopping.

The groups recommended that if there is a need for “truly essential” Passover purchases, “send one family member only—who is neither ill, vulnerable, nor of known exposure to COVID-19—as rarely and as briefly as possible.”

“Stores serving the community should shift to home delivery or drive-by parking lot pickup of pre-orders, and to the extent this is not possible, must take substantive steps to minimize crowding, maintain hygiene and maximize social distancing,” they added. “We will truly honor Pesach by limiting our purchases to the truly ESSENTIAL, ensuring that all of us, especially the vulnerable, are able to celebrate Pesach in good health. We must STAY HOME; SAVE LIVES.”

The organizations also said that all travel to other cities “must be canceled, whether to vacation venues or to family. Everyone must plan to celebrate Pesach where they are.”

Individuals living alone or those who are “absolutely unable” to prepare for Pesach may self-quarantine for 14 days, and then join with a local family that has been staying home and limiting their interactions outside the home, they said. The elderly and people considered “high risk” were encouraged to seek medical advice before considering that option.

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