The Jewish community is now preparing for possible closures of restaurants, synagogues, schools, and more as the cases of COVID-19 variant Omicron rises in New York City.
Inna Mashiach, co-owner of Brooklyn-based Israeli café Reunion the soaring Omicron cases is similar to the scenario in March 2020 where COVID cases are every night in the Big Apple.
“There’s a huge outbreak, especially in our area of Brooklyn,” Mashiach said.
Mashiach said while closing down her cafe is not an option due to Omicron they were forced to shut down for at least one day this week after some staff had been infected.
“We had to close today to give the opportunity for everyone to get tested and to reassess,” she said.
The Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center in Manhattan where a rate of 790.87 cases per 100,000 people is recorded, already announced that all in-person programs and classes, including group fitness, will be suspended or pivoted to virtual format through January 2.
“Our community’s health remains our top priority and fortunately our virtual presence has been well established. We are so mindful of the need for people to connect with one another, especially during the holidays, and we remain committed to helping to facilitate that,” JCC Manhattan CEO Rabbi Joy Levitt said.
The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan also announced that it would be closing its high school and switching to virtual learning until it adjourns for winter break in the middle of next week.
The school made the tough decision after they recorded 14 COVID cases over the previous two days.
Sources said the school has a vaccine mandate for students.
“In light of this trend, as well as unknowns about spread within grades, in consultation with our Advisory Committee, we have decided that in-school learning for the High School is not safe enough for these final days before winter break,” Ariela Dubler, the head of school said.
Meanwhile, on the synagogue front, a number of synagogues have announced a return to all-virtual services.
In addition to Romemu, Central Synagogue, the large Reform Congregation in Midtown, also cited the rise in cases and announced on its website that “this week’s worship services for Shabbat… will only be held virtually.”
East Midwood Jewish Center in Brooklyn made the same decision, as did Lab/Shul, a nondenominational congregation in Manhattan.