Community Briefings

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regarding COVID-19.



Dear Romemu Community, 
The past few months have been an extraordinary time. We have done our best to serve the community’s needs in the face of enormous change, uncertainty, fear, loss, and times of sorrow. We have also done our best to join with you for many times of inspiration, connection, meaning, and joy — all “virtually” since the beginning of March. 
While we have been thrilled and honored to be able to serve in this way with all our hearts and might, since the beginning of the COVID crisis the amount of teaching, programming, prayer services, pastoral work, operational, and administrative work at Romemu has increased dramatically. Given the personal and professional pressures on our team, a difficult financial outlook, and the need to take the proper time to plan for the upcoming year, Romemu will observe a self-imposed “shmita” (release) for the month of July, reducing the amount of external activities and spending our time focussed internally. 
“Shmita” refers to a Jewish agricultural practice of letting the land lay fallow for a year every 7 years. During this “sabbatical” year, all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning, and harvesting is forbidden according to Jewish law. At Romemu, our intention for this “Summer Shmita” is to give the soil of our organization time to rejuvenate, and we “farmers” the time to reflect and plan. 
During the month of July:
  • The Romemu office will be closed on Mondays, and for the entire week of July 20-24. 
  • Classes and programs will be reduced. Romemu staff (and lay leaders) will focus our time on visioning, planning for the High Holidays and the year ahead, and on other internal organizational priorities.
  • Clergy will be available for pastoral emergencies only.
The following activities WILL be happening: 
  • Shabbat services, including Sha’baby, Kabbalat Shabbat Services, Open Book and Saturday Morning Services
  • Morning Minyan
  • Rabbi Ingber’s weekday Hasidic Masters class
  • Certain classes and programs led by lay leaders — who will contact current participants directly with relevant information
The 2020 Summer Shmita will end on Wednesday evening, July 29th with the beginning of Tisha B’Av. More information to follow. 
Our hope is that this time of conscious “tzimtzum” (restriction) will ultimately lead to greater expansion and the ability to better serve this community as we move forward together. 
Please consult for a detailed schedule.
With blessings for rest and renewal,
Jeffrey Cahn, Executive Director


Dear Romemu Community, and the New York City Community at Large,
Last week, when we decided to cancel all in-person Shabbat and Purim services and celebrations, we knew of no other synagogues in Manhattan that had yet made such a decision. The CDC and NY Department of Health had NOT recommended that religious institutions cease all in-person activities. As of this writing, they have still not.
Yet we again feel compelled to act dramatically as we observe the events in the world around us and in our sister communities outside of New York City. It is clear to us that the only way to ensure that we do not play a role in furthering the unfolding pandemic is to completely cease our part in fostering non-essential social interactions, and move everything we can online. We are therefore making the following decisions, AND WE CALL UPON ALL OTHER ORGANZATIONS, BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS PROVIDING NON-ESSENTIAL SERVICES TO DO THE SAME:
  • Romemu as an organization is immediately ceasing all in-person activities. Prayer services, pastoral activities, learning, community events, and meetings of all types will be held using online or telecommunications technologies, if possible. 
  • Staff will be encouraged NOT to use mass transit and allowed to work from home if needed.
  • We will not hold any public services or celebrations for lifecycle events. Shiva visits in person are discouraged.
  • Romemu encourages people NOT to gather in groups for ANY non-essential reason. This includes NOT praying together at home, NOT learning together, and NOT gathering together for Shabbat meals. This also includes NOT going to entertainment events or any non-essential activities where contact with many others is likely. 
For an organization whose main role is to foster intimate and meaningful community, these are painful decisions. We are committed, therefore, to continuing to support the Romemu community with pastoral care, spiritual nourishment, learning and celebration in whatever ways we can, as long as it does not involve in-person contact. We will dramatically increase our use of Livestream, Zoom videoconferencing, teleconferencing and other technologies, which we already do for many services and programs, and add even more opportunities for learning, sharing and community online. Specific details will be forthcoming over the next few days.
Our hearts are broken for all of us. But we strongly believe this is the right action to take, and that we would be even more broken-hearted if we had a role in unwittingly spreading this pandemic while trying to serve those we love. 
With love, caring and blessings,
Rabbi David Ingber, Founder & Senior Rabbi
Jeffrey Cahn, Executive Director



Dear Romemu Community,

In the past 24 hours alone, we have received briefings and recommendations regarding the Coronavirus outbreak from a vast array of government agencies, Jewish communal institutions, universities, hospitals, synagogues, experts and community members. I have also met extensively with Rabbi Ingber and our own staff to examine our current operations, make immediate changes where indicated, and contingency plan for the future. We are monitoring the situation inside and outside of Romemu on a daily (hourly, actually) basis, and will continue to respond as advised by experts and our own situational analysis.

Our clear priority is the safety and health of our community and our staff. We are therefore immediately putting into place the actions below, and ask for your cooperation.

Thank you for your help and understanding,

Jeffrey Cahn, Executive Director

IMPORTANT: If a community member knows or suspects someone may have been infected, or directly exposed to someone who is infected, we require you to report this information to our clergy team immediately. All information will remain anonymous. Contact: or (212) 580-4294 x803

Our Response:

Building Operations | WEPC & RC
  • All people entering our buildings are REQUIRED to wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer
  • The Romemu Campus cleaning schedule has been quadrupled. A new regimen of disinfecting/sanitizing has been added. 
  • Informative posters on sanitizing/prevention have been placed throughout the building
  • Sanitizing wipe stations have been placed on every floor
  • Additional sanitizing materials have been placed in each meeting space
  • We will now keep as many doors open as possible in an effort to reduce contact with handles


Shabbat & Community Gatherings
  • All people entering our sanctuaries are REQUIRED to wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer
  • Community members, staff, and clergy are asked to refrain from personal contact (ie: hugging, hand holding, kissing when greeting)
  • During Services, we ask congregants to refrain from kissing the torah, mezzuzim or siddurim.
  • We are encouraging community members to purchase and bring their own siddur
  • Hand wipes will be distributed at services to wipe siddurim
  • Programs that include “nosh” will now be monitored by a “Staff Sanitizer” ensuring that all participating sanitize their hands before.
  • As always, we encourage community members to take advantage of live-streaming if feeling unwell.


Seekers Holistic Hebrew School
  • All students and caregivers entering our buildings are REQUIRED to wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer
  • All students required to re-sanitize hands upon entering classrooms
  • Teachers will be wiping down surfaces as used
  • All snacks will be individually prepared and distributed by teachers
  • Student to student contact will be limited
  • All craft projects will be prepared beforehand to limit contact with normally shared craft supplies


Staff Guidelines
  • Staff are allowed and encouraged to work from home if they are not feeling well.
  • We are monitoring staff travel and requiring self-evaluation upon return
  • We are regularly sanitizing staff work stations and common areas
  • All staff are creating contingency plans for their areas of responsibility in case the situation worsens


Community Communications
  • Community E-mails: Please make sure you receive our weekly communications. If you think you may not be receiving them, please contact
  • Website: Romemu now has a page dedicated to regular updates regarding new procedures, possible closings, changes in programming and more.
  • Text Alert System: We will now include text alerts for community wide urgent messaging. Opt-In here.


For the safety of our clergy, staff, and fellow congregants, please:
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve 
  • Wash your hands regularly 
  • Avoid touching your face 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick 
  • Get your flu shot—it’s never too late 
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick 


For more information on the City’s response, visit:
For Coronavirus preparedness tips and safety info, visit:
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