Thursday, February 25, 2021

COVID-19 Update #52

 Throughout the month of February we have had continued cases on a daily basis, in a fluctuating pattern. Over the past several days we have seen an uptick, unfortunately, just as we go into Purim. We have had approximately 130 cases since the beginning of February, with at least 40 in the last 7 days alone; these are the cases that have tested positive, that we are aware of. Of these cases in February, three appear to have been re-infections. Boruch Hashem most patients have done very well, although some have gotten very ill. 

As always, mask use and social distancing remain important tools to slow the spread of infection. Considering that we are going into Purim and that we have had a recent uptick in cases, the following request is critical:

If you have any symptoms whatsoever, please do not join the Purim festivities. The inevitable crowded nature of these events makes them particularly high risk for spread of infection, and a possible superspreading event. Even if you are unsure, and just feel off, or have an unusual headache, or sore throat, or any of the many symptoms that might be Covid, please err on the side of caution and do not mingle with others. The same is true if you have been in close contact with somebody who has Covid.

May we be benched with a joyous and healthy Purim, and may the simchas Purim be poiretz all the gedarim and difficulties of this time, and lead us to ultimate simcha of moshiach tzidkeinu.

A freilichen Purim,

  • The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen

Friday, January 29, 2021

COVID-19 Update #51

 Community covid status:

Boruch Hashem the average daily number of cases in our community is downtrending, and we hope and pray it continues in that trajectory. Please continue to take the public health precautions necessary to prevent the spread of disease, in particular with respect to large crowded gatherings, and those who are at high risk for serious illness.

Covid vaccine update:

The vaccine distribution in New York City is regulated by New York State. Currently, in phase 1b, vaccine eligibility includes individuals above the age of 65, teachers, healthcare workers, first responders, and other personnel as laid out by the government. (The full list is here:

However, distribution of the vaccine to these groups of people remains suboptimal. Specifically, at the time of this writing, private practices around the city, including here in Crown Heights, have not been provided with the vaccine doses needed for their eligible patients. An attempt to get the vaccine from the city for a community drive was not yet successful. 

There are several locations where there may be available vaccine doses. All require an appointment and vaccine supplies are variable. The ODA health network in Williamsburg and Ezra medical centers in Boro Park  have limited supplies of vaccine. There are other sites that can be found at  NYCs dedicated website. Therefore, for the time being, those that are eligible and wish to go get vaccinated can try any of the following:, calling ODA at 718-260-4600 ext 999, or calling Ezra medical at 718-233-1134. 

Boruch Hashem there has been tremendous positive feedback to the vaccine Q&A with Dr BarZeev, and we encourage all those with questions regarding its safety and necessity to take the time to watch the Q&A, available here:

Upcoming Purim season:

It is difficult to believe that we are approaching the Purim season, which last year marked the beginning of a difficult period that has been seared into our memory. As a community we have together suffered so much, some of us in more personal and deep ways than others. Neshamos will be hosting a virtual event on Motzei Shabbos 8 Adar (20th Feb) to remember those no longer with us, what we have all lost during this painful time, and to recognize as a community the service performed by our volunteer heroes.  Please mark your calendars, with further details of the event to be forthcoming. 

Wishing everyone excellent health, Good Shabbos!

- The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr Rosen

Friday, January 15, 2021

COVID vaccine Q&A with Dr. Eli Rosen and Dr. Naor Bar Zeev. #GedaliahSoc...

Dr. Eli Rosen, veteran family physician to the Crown Heights Chabad community, hosts a Q&A regarding the COVID vaccine with guest Dr. Naor Bar Zeev, distinguished physician, epidemiologist, and vaccine expert.  Hosted by the Gedaliah Society, January 14, 2021 / 2 Shvat 5781.

Session breakdown by topic:

(Click on the minute marker to advance to that section)

3:20 How does the vaccine work?

12:39 Are children vectors?

15:21 How does the vaccine provide immunity?

19:55 Do we need masks and distancing after the vaccine?

20:30 One dose versus two doses?

25:40 How long will immunity from the vaccine last?

29:47 What about the new strains?

34:10 Is the vaccine safe?

50:31 Was the vaccine studied in pregnant women?

54:09 Does the vaccine affect fertility?

58:06 Does the vaccine affect or cause autoimmune disease?

1:02:17 What about other additives in the vaccine?

1:05:07 Can pregnant or breastfeeding women take the vaccine?

1:08:32 Aren't people getting seriously ill and dying from the vaccine, and having serious allergies?

1:11:37 Aren't many doctors against the vaccine?

1:14:47 Can the vaccine change your DNA?

1:16:31 Do we really need a vaccine if we have such good treatments?

1:17:47 If I'm young and healthy, why take the chance with the vaccine?

1:20:14 I had COVID and/or have antibodies; do I still need the vaccine?

1:24:25 Conclusion


לכתוביות עברית, לחץ על "הגדרות" ובחר באפשרות כתוביות

ד"ר אלי רוזן, רופא משפחה ותיק מקהילת חב"ד קראון הייטס, מארח שאלות ותשובות בנושא חיסון COVID עם האורח ד"ר נאור בר זאב, רופא מכובד, אפידמיולוג ומומחה לחיסונים. בהנחיית אגודת גדליה, 14 בינואר 2021, ב 'שבט תשע"ח. ראה פירוט מושבים להלן.

פירוט מושבים לפי נושאים:

3:20 איך החיסון עובד?

12:39 האם ילדים וקטורים?

15:21 כיצד החיסון מספק חסינות?

19:55 האם אנו זקוקים למסכות ולהתרחקות לאחר החיסון?

20:30 מנה אחת לעומת שתי מנות?

25:40 כמה זמן תימשך החסינות מפני החיסון?

29:47 מה עם הזנים החדשים?

34:10 האם החיסון בטוח?

50:31 האם החיסון נחקר אצל נשים בהריון?

54:09 האם החיסון משפיע על הפוריות?

58:06 האם החיסון משפיע או גורם למחלות אוטואימוניות?

1:02:17 מה לגבי תוספים אחרים בחיסון?

1:05:07 האם נשים בהריון או מיניקות יכולות לקחת את החיסון?

1:08:32 האם אנשים לא חולים במחלה קשה ומתים מחיסון וסובלים מאלרגיות קשות?

1:11:37 האם אין הרבה רופאים נגד החיסון?

1:14:47 האם החיסון יכול לשנות את ה- DNA שלך?

1:16:31 האם אנחנו באמת צריכים חיסון אם יש לנו טיפולים כל כך טובים?

1:17:47 אם אני צעיר ובריא, למה לקחת את הסיכון עם החיסון?

1:20:14 היה לי COVID ו / או יש לי נוגדנים; האם אני עדיין צריך את החיסון?

1:24:25 מסקנה

Monday, January 11, 2021

COVID-19 Update #50

Several dozen questions have come in so far related to vaccine safety and efficacy. As per our last update, IYH we will be having a Q&A featuring Dr. Naor Bar-Zeev and hosted by Dr. Eli Rosen addressing these questions in an organized fashion. Please email any such questions to with “vaccine” in the subject line, or DM questions on Instagram to @gedaliahupdates.  IYH the Q&A session will then be made publicly available, hopefully by the end of this week. Live questions in real time won’t be possible for logistical reasons, so please send any questions in beforehand. 

-The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen

Friday, January 8, 2021

COVID-19 Update #49

 Boruch Hashem the daily average of cases appears to have levelled off, and is no longer rising; we hope IYH soon it will not only plateau but also decline. COVID nonetheless remains endemic (always present) in our community and we continue to urge those that are older and have not previously been ill to take appropriate precautions, particularly with respect to crowded indoor places and events where mask use and social distancing is not practiced. 

Mitigation of this process (to achieve many fewer infections) is obviously a priority for the community. There are various ways to bring this about, that when applied together will hopefully result in the infection disappearing from our midst, and IYH continuing to keep our institutions open. This must be a multipronged approach.

As far as possible social events should have limited attendees and the venues as open as possible, to allow for distancing. We all need to be very cognizant of not attending simchas when feeling in any way ill. This applies to children as well. Anyone who is ill should get tested immediately. Choosing NOT to know can only result in further spread of the virus. 

Those that are sick with COVID and those who have been closely exposed to someone with COVID, please continue to follow the following isolation and quarantine guidelines: People ill with the virus are isolated for 10 days from the beginning of their symptoms.  Those closely exposed to the infectious individual should quarantine themselves (not socializing) and can get tested after 5 days. If negative, they may exit the state of quarantine after day 7, being particularly careful with personal mask use and distancing (as they may still be infectious up to 14 days). If they choose not to be tested, quarantine lasts a minimum of 10 days with the same 14 day conditions as above.

Unfortunately, and for reasons both known and unknown, the above measures imperfectly applied have not resulted in an end to the spread of the virus locally, and we are still witnessing the profound loss and disruption caused by an ongoing presence of the virus. This fact, along with a pressing need for everyone to resume a normal existence, brings us to a brief discussion of the vaccine:

If the government meets its promise, the vaccine will hopefully be available locally in the coming week, with the current policy initially allowing for those over 75 years of age or high risk to receive the vaccine (details as laid out by the governor). This will need to be coordinated with your medical provider, or obtained from one of the city vaccine sites that will hopefully soon be set up.

In a general way, a successful vaccination program holds the greatest promise of eradicating this illness, and we stand firmly behind implementation of widespread vaccination. We understand that any intervention in the medical realm carries risk, however as the serious casualties of this illness continue to mount, we need to turn to the tools that Hashem has provided us, as we have done in previous epidemics, with faith that we will be free of this scourge soon.

We understand that there are many questions related to the vaccine, both with respect to its safety and its necessity.  IYH we will be having a live webinar session by Dr. Naor Bar-Zeev to address many of the questions that arise. Dr. Bar-Zeev is an infectious diseases physician and statistical epidemiologist who has done extensive research into vaccines and their development, and is an associate professor of International Health and Vaccine Sciences at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Please submit any questions beforehand to, with “vaccine” in the subject line.  Alternatively, please direct message any questions via Instagram to @gedaliahupdates. We will try to organize the questions that come in and have Dr. Bar-Zeev address them in an organized fashion. 

Wishing everyone continued good health,

Good Shabbos !

     -The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen

Friday, December 25, 2020

COVID-19 Update #48

Over the past week there have been upwards of 100 cases of COVID in our community. Thankfully, over the past few days we have not witnessed the exponential increase we had feared, which is very reassuring; hopefully this will not only continue to be the case, but IYH we will see a downtrend.  However, there are still many cases daily across all age groups, with many in the group of most concern. Predominantly the virus is spreading among those who had not previously had COVID. 

Therefore, given the continued presence of COVID in our community, we must strongly urge those above the age 50 who have not previously been ill with COVID to continue to take caution. For the time being, and certainly over this Shabbos and into next week, those in this group are urged to avoid shuls, simchas, or other crowded areas, and to be cautious about socializing with family or friends who may spread the virus. Of particular concern is children who are constantly mixing with others at school, and who then go to visit their vulnerable grandparents who of course desire to spend time or a meal with those whom they love. 

For the general community, if someone is ill with COVID they should stay home and isolate until ten days have passed, and they are symptom free for at least a day. Those who have been in close contact with a person with COVID should quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. (Alternatively, one may discontinue quarantine on day 7 if a negative test is obtained on day 5-7 of quarantine.)

Isolation of those who are ill, and quarantining those who have been closely exposed, is perhaps the single most important thing we can do to slow down the spread of COVID.  In addition, masks and social distancing are effective tools in reducing the spread of COVID and should be utilized. 

IYH next week we will have further information as to where things stand. For now, we beg people not to congregate in big crowds, at least for the short term, given the continued prevalence of cases. 

Wishing those that are currently ill a complete and speedy refuah shleimah, and IYH we should only have good news to share.

Good Shabbos!

     -The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen

Monday, December 21, 2020

COVID-19 Update #47

In the past few days we have seen a dramatic and worrisome increase in new cases of COVID in our community. These are occurring in both children and adults. Overwhelmingly this has been in those who have not been previously ill. We hope we are not standing on the brink of a serious outbreak, but we must act with caution as though we are.  We urge those above age 50 who have not previously been sick with COVID to shelter in place, at least for the time being until we can assess the situation further. Over the next few days we hope to have clarification as to the nature of the current resurgence; as such: We strongly recommend those in this category to not attend shul, simchas, family gatherings, and the like. 

  • The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen

Monday, December 7, 2020

COVID-19 Update #46


By the grace of Hashem, the Tishrei season was relatively quiet - the community was spared a major outbreak, no fatalities were reported, and we had relatively few cases compared to our neighboring communities. However, we seem to have entered into a different phase locally here in Crown Heights.  As opposed to the springtime “epidemic”, where we had rapid spread to many individuals, now COVID appears to be more “endemic”, where we continue to see multiple new cases a day in a relatively persistent and consistent fashion. We believe this pattern of infection is the result of the majority of the population having already been ill with the virus in the spring.

Unfortunately over the past few weeks we lost 2 elderly individuals (with pre-existing illness) to COVID. There have been numerous hospitalizations of adults over the age of 65, most of whom did well. For those still in the hospital and seriously ill, we wish them a speedy and complete recovery.  It remains clear that COVID has not disappeared, and remains potentially very dangerous. 

In addition, we are seeing many in the younger age group being affected with COVID (usually a mild form), and we are seeing spread of infection from adults to children and from children to adults. Nearly all of the new cases in our community are in those who have never been sick previously, with occasional cases of reinfection, most of whom have had a mild illness.

It’s worth mentioning that although nearly all of the cases we are seeing are in those who have not been previously ill, many of these individuals have been previously exposed, often heavily. It is unclear why they did not become ill when first exposed, and only became ill now with a current exposure.  This means that although we think that one who has already been sick with COVID is unlikely to get sick again, the same cannot be said for one who was previously merely exposed but not sick.

Despite the continued new cases (many within the younger age group who may be a source of infection to other older individuals), keeping the schools open remains a clear priority.  Under the current circumstances, keeping schools open means that we will continue to see students getting ill with COVID. As stated previously, we hope and expect that this will not surge into the wildfire we’ve seen previously; nevertheless, we expect to see continued cases among our students and within the community.  Therefore we are earnestly making the following recommendations in an attempt to prevent even one more avoidable hospitalization.

  • Vulnerable staff in the schools, particularly those over 60 who have not previously been ill with confirmed COVID, should not have direct contact with the student body until the case count decreases significantly.
  • Out of town students should preferably not be living with older/vulnerable grandparents or relatives who have not previously been ill with confirmed COVID.
  • Any child who is not completely well should stay home until it becomes clear why they are not themselves, and what the problem is. To this end, getting the child evaluated by a medical professional and tested will help to significantly limit the spread within the school, and more particularly protect vulnerable others especially the elderly. 
  • With the knowledge that susceptible children may be carrying the virus, for the time being we strongly recommend that school age children stay away from the elderly and otherwise vulnerable, particularly those who have not previously been ill with confirmed COVID.

We will surely be done with this pandemic soon with the help of Hashem. Until that time, it’s imperative that we keep the above in mind as we approach Chanukah. The beauty of the multigenerational Chanukah party, with grandchildren visiting with their grandparents, is something that currently carries with it a significant degree of risk, and should be avoided.  

There is ample reason to suggest that we will soon emerge from the darkness into the light again. Until then we need to act smart and protect every individual.

With blessings for a lichtiger Chanukah and praying for the ultimate light of the Redemption. 

  • The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen

Sunday, November 1, 2020

COVID-19 Update #45

The following is the data we have from our local Crown Heights community since the beginning of October (coinciding roughly with the beginning of Sukkos). The information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, although we suspect that there is a degree of underreporting and the numbers are likely in fact higher.   

These total approximately 90 cases; the vast majority of these reflect patients who were symptomatic and then tested positive for COVID. A small amount are those who were not tested but in whom there is a very strong clinical suspicion of COVID, and a small amount are those who tested positive but did not have symptoms. These cases are almost entirely among local residents of Crown Heights. Among these 90 patients, 4 appear to be reinfections; the rest of the infections are in those who have not previously been ill with COVID. 

The average age of these 90 patients is approximately 34 years old. 14 of these patients are above the age of 60, and when assessing this higher risk group (those above 60 years of age), the following is the graph of when these patients developed symptoms. 

A  small handful of these patients over 60 years of age required hospitalization, all within the past week or two. Of those who required hospitalization, all are back home Boruch Hashem, and we wish them a speedy and complete recovery. We must remain cognizant that this illness may still be severe and occasionally dangerous to life.

From the above data, some observations can be made:

  • COVID is currently present in our community, spreading locally, and has recently begun to affect those above age 60 more than during the month of Tishrei. The overall numbers of those infected remain relatively low, Boruch Hashem, and we pray it continues that way. 
  • As expected, infection rates in schools and yeshivas appear to be low at this time. Older vulnerable teachers must however still be cautious.
  • Reinfection does indeed seem to be a real phenomenon, however for the time being seems to be not a common occurrence. In that vein, we are cautiously optimistic that the widespread infection we’ve experienced as a community in the spring is contributing a degree of protection, and accounts for the continued relatively low numbers locally. We hope and pray it continues this way. 
  • Those currently getting sick seem to be less ill than those who were getting ill in the springtime. Of the possible factors accounting for this phenomenon, the one that seems the most plausible is a decreased inoculum (amount of viral particles) that any person who contracts the virus is exposed to. In March/April individuals were exposed to multiple infected others, none of whom were wearing masks or distancing. Currently the average exposure is to a single individual, who may hopefully be wearing a mask, and thus the recipient is going to get infected by a smaller infectious load.  It is too early to state whether there is also an inherent change in the virulence of the virus. There obviously remains a lot to learn.

Based on this data and the observations above, the following are some recommendations which are an attempt to continue to protect our vulnerable, keep our schools open, and allow our community to go on living their day to day lives as close to normal as possible:

  • Those who are most vulnerable (those above age 60, and those who have not been sick) should be particularly careful to socially distance and insist on mutual mask wearing during social contact. People in this category should be careful not to mingle at kidushim and simchas.
  • Anyone who is feeling ill should stay home and not risk giving the illness to others, and definitely wear a mask. They should follow isolation guidelines, unless specifically cleared from COVID by their healthcare provider.
  • Quarantine: This is designed to prevent spread of disease by those who may have caught the virus, have become infectious, but have not yet felt sick and therefore wouldn’t normally stay home. At this time we understand that most of the community has quarantine burn out; stopping everything and being alone for 14 days has become very impracticable and onerous. IYH we hope cases will soon decrease locally and only be few and far in between, and quarantine will not continue to be a burden.
  • Testing: Recent change in rules by the government suggest an ever increasing reliance on testing, in order to determine prevalence in any one area. We hope that our neighborhood will not enter under that restriction, but it would appear that testing will become more common, as long as we continue to have cases.
  • All of the above measures are designed to reduce prevalence of new cases. The relative contribution of each measure is unclear, but taken together we can reduce the spread locally.  Reducing local spread is the most important thing we can do to ensure that our day to day lives, including school, shul, work, social engagements, etc, can continue in as normal a manner as possible. 

With a fervent prayer that this whole episode will be over soon, and we can go forward to greet the Rebbe in joy and good health!

  • The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen

Monday, October 5, 2020

COVID-19 Update #44

Gut moed. Currently, nine of our neighboring zip codes are scheduled to have their schools and non-essential businesses closed, pending approval from the governor; many other zip codes, including 11213, are being watched closely. 

Regardless of one's political beliefs or leaning, it’s clear that with respect to Covid, we as a community have two primary goals: 1) Avoid serious illness, and 2) Keep our schools open

There is still a risk of serious illness from COVID. In addition, it has become increasingly clear that our schools may close if we’re not more careful.

Our greatest chance of avoiding serious illness and keeping our schools open depends on our ability to unite as a community and take COVID precautions seriously. This is all the harder now, during Sukkos and approaching Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah, typically a time of widespread communal rejoicing. Nevertheless, preservation of life and the chinuch of our children are considerations which ought to supersede all others. 

As we address the above, we must make the painful medical recommendation that the crowded dancing of Simchas Beis Hasho’eva, with people from other neighborhoods and those of all ages and conditions, not take place this year in the usual manner, due to the risk of spreading the virus. Similarly, the crowded indoor nature of Hakofos risks spreading the virus; other ways of conducting Hakofos, such as outdoors and with precautions, are recommended. In addition, given the fact that many of our neighboring communities have outbreaks, bochurim going on Tahalucha to the neighboring communities involves the risk of spreading the virus between our communities and should be avoided as well.  

The preceding paragraph contains our medical recommendations, and we await psak from the Rabbonim and input from the Mashpiim on these issues.

We feel it is important to openly address a question that has crept up: Why should those with symptoms get tested at all, if doing so could increase the “positivity rate” and put our schools in jeopardy? 

This is a dangerous gamble. Without positive proof of the virus, many of those with only mild symptoms may not isolate for the required time, and their close contacts (without positive proof of exposure) will not appropriately quarantine.  Practically, this approach carries the risk of COVID running unchecked in our community and spreading in high risk circles G-d forbid. In a halachic system that places supreme value on human life, not testing in an open society (where there is daily interaction between those who are vulnerable and others) is a high risk strategy that we cannot follow. Those that are sick must get tested, and as a community we should follow the isolation and quarantine guidelines laid out in update #42.

The 2 following oft mentioned behaviors cannot be stressed enough.


IYH we will get through these next few weeks together as a community, and accomplish our goals of avoiding serious illness and keeping our schools open.  

  • The Gedaliah Society, in conjunction with Dr. Rosen