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Covid-19 Stay informed

Monday, March 9, 2020 13 Adar 5780

All Day


Information Repository*: All the emails, including
Mishloach Manot guidelines, that we are sending about Covid-19 are posted here

Email sent March 16



Important Information! 

Please read fully for continued learning opportunities:

Our Torah learning MUST continue!

Please join us for one or more of these great learning opportunities:


Join one of these WhatsApp groups to get short messages delivered right to you:

Daily Daf Yomi Class

To help keep the sense of collective learning going, Rabbi Greenhouse will continue to teach the Daf Yomi daily beginning Sunday, March 22nd. You can click here to join (if possible, turn your cameras on) or call in to 1 866 282 7366 with access code: 806 776 396.


Rabbi Posy's Monday Podcast

Join Rabbi Posy on Mondays for Turning COVID into Kavod which you will find posted on

Beth Jacob Virtual University Classes via Zoom

We invite you to join our Beth Jacob meZOOman!

Join one of these classes below via zoom. Click here or call 1 346 248 7799

and insert the Meeting ID: 456 894 0056 to join


11:00 am Parshat Hashavua: A Fresh Look with Rabbi Topp

7:45 pm Goldberger Jewish History Series - From the Rise of Islam to the Modern Period with Rabbi Abraham Lieberman



11:00 am Hidden Women in the Bible with Chazan Arik 

8:00 pm Contemporary Topics with Rabbi Topp



12:00 pm Parshat Hashavua with Rabbi Elias 

7:30 pm Chazan Arik's Notes of Prayer



11:00 am Great Jewish Thinkers of the Last Millennium with Rabbi Posy


Young Professional Classes


Tuesday, March 17

Making Space for Having Faith with Rabbi Tombosky at 7:30 pm


Thursday, March 19

Parshat Hashavua with Rabbi Robbie & Chava Tombosky at 7:30 pm

Topic: VaYakhel: Coming Together While Being Apart


Tuesday, March 24

Daring Greatly: The Power of Vulnerability - Part 4 with Chava Tombosky at 7:30 pm

Topic: Cultivating Resiliency: Through the Lens of our Jewish Heroes

Stay tuned for additional information for our upcoming programs:

Pre-Shabbat Kumsitz for families with Rabbi Broner, Chazan Arik & Rabbi Topp


  • Support Session in Troubled Times with Dr. Ernie Katz via zoom

Additional Helpful Information

Buddy System for Those in Need of Assistance:

We are creating a buddy system to help with shopping and other errands for those in need who have been advised not to go out. If you are aware of neighbors or friends who may be in that category, please reach out to check in on them.

  • If you are in need of help, please fill out this google form here and a staff member or volunteer will respond promptly.
  • If you are in good health, have not been around those with a cold, cough or illness and are able to help others, click here to join our WhatsApp Volunteer group.

Informative Articles and Suggested Reading:


Daily Tehillim

Please join the Orthodox Union community for the recitation of Tehillim (chapters 20, 26 and 130) each morning at 10:00AM. The call-in number is 773-377-9170.


Davening Times 

Please be mindful of the proper zmanim for davening. To find the earliest and latest times for each day, please visit


Local Restaurants 

Please consider ordering take-out from our local establishments, especially from our Beth Jacob caterers - La Gondola, Pat's Restaurant, Pico Kosher Deli, Schwartz Bakery and Schwartz Marketplace to support them during this difficult time.  


La Gondola

Phone: 310 247-1239

Address: 9025 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA



Pat's Restaurant

Phone: 310 205-8705

Address: 9233 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA



Pico Kosher Deli/MGM Catering

Phone: 310 271-9063

Address: 8826 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA



Schwartz Bakery & Cafe

Phone: 310 854-0592

Address: 8622 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA


Schwartz Marketplace

Phone: 310 777-7577

Address: 8856 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA


Email sent March 13

Dear Friend,


I never imagined there would come a time that I would tell people to not come to Shul and yet that happened yesterday when we made the painful decision to close Beth Jacob for Shabbat and through at least Monday. Going to Shul on Shabbat (and during the week too) is ingrained in me from my childhood when one Shabbat morning, my father and I were unable to open the screen door due to the overnight major snowstorm, but my father didn’t hesitate to say that we would just put on our boots and head to our family Shul, Rabbi Oelbaum’s shtiebel.

Shabbat morning is synonymous with Shul but this Shabbat is unfortunately different because more important than our love of Shul is our responsibility to do our utmost to protect fellow human beings. We are not naïve to think we can stop the spread of this virus but following the guidance of medical experts, we hope we can slow down the spread, to save lives of those most at risk and at the same time “flatten the curve” to make it more manageable for the medical professionals to effectively treat all sick patients (see illustrative chart below). The precautions we’re taking are not intended to cause alarm or panic but rather signify our effort to act prudently and responsibly for the well-being of all.

Therefore, this Shabbat, we won’t have minyanim or shiurim in Beth Jacob, but we will have a communal minyan of minds and hearts to reach the heavens. And then there will powerful joy, hope and gratitude, please Gd, when our kehilla gathers again and stands shoulder to shoulder.

This challenging period provides us all with an opportunity. With the physical distancing, we have a greater responsibility to find ways to connect more meaningfully with our family and friends. With every avoidance of a handshake, we should commit to doing some good deed, even small, for another.

After sending out our announcement yesterday, I’m gratified to have received several emails from members offering to provide assistance or make phone calls to anyone in need. I’m proud to be part of such a caring community that continues to make a Kiddush Hashem. We are now organizing a team of volunteers to partner with the clergy in making phone calls to individuals whom we think would appreciate it, firstly to make sure they know not to come to Shul tomorrow and secondly to lift their spirits and offer help particularly during this period of greater physical isolation. I encourage each of you to think for a moment about the person who lives alone or is at risk and check in on him or her with a phone call.

I also give a hearty shout out to our Bat Mitzvah girl, Hadassah Miller, who was planning to celebrate her exciting milestone in Shul tomorrow with family and friends and had a fantastic speech prepared which we’ll hopefully have a chance to hear soon. We’ve watched Hadassah grow up to be the amazing young lady she is today- smart, responsible and mature beyond her years. Reflective of that maturity, she and her wonderful parents, our leaders Ari and Samira, were incredibly understanding and supportive of our decision even though I can only imagine how difficult this change of plans is for them. To Hadassah and the Miller family, Kol Hakavod and Mazal tov.   

Now, I’d like to share a few notes about this Shabbat. This Shabbat is not a washout, but we can make it profoundly meaningful:


This week we will not experience the reading of the Torah in Shul and other typical Shul reminders of the sanctity of Shabbat. Therefore, I suggest that it’s extra important to take care to dress in the appropriate Shabbat attire over the course of Shabbat, to give honor to the holy day.

Candles should be lit at 6:42pm

Havdallah tomorrow night is 7:43pm


For Pre-Shabbat Ruach with Rabbi Mordechai Willig and Yeshiva University, at 3:15pm, please click here. (Through the Zoom platform)


We are asking each of you to daven at home, individually, which is what I’ll be doing. There should be no house minyanim. This will undermine our communal effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

While we’ll be missing out on the important element of tefilla b’tzibbur, this will be an opportunity to daven with less distractions and focus on the meaning of the words of the siddur, as we try to draw strength and connect with Hashem during this trying time.

The Shulchan Aruch writes that even if you daven at home, there is great merit to daven at the same time as the community is praying. We are therefore inviting everyone to daven in your homes at standard Shul davening times, so we can daven “together” with our hearts and minds connected.

Read the Parasha in keeping with our keriyat haTorah cycle, including Parshat Parah. With permission from Artscroll, I have included a link to the Artscroll Chumash for Ki Tisa and Parah, which you can print out prior to Shabbat.


Torah Learning:

At this moment, we are setting up a plan to disseminate, over the coming days, video and audio shiurim, both live and pre-recorded so we can maintain or even increase our learning. This way, you don’t have to worry and you can sleep soundly knowing that you’ll have plenty of learning opportunities :).  

Here’s a link to my whatsapp dvar Torah that will go out shortly.

Here are some Parsha questions from the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue that you can print out today and discuss over the course of Shabbat. 


Shalom Bayit:

With many working at home and children off from school, this Shabbat and during the week, we’ll be spending more time with loved ones. The closing of Shul and School enables us to focus on what we can do to build a stronger Jewish home. Increased time at home could lead to tension and friction. Let us double our efforts to speak kindly to each other and be extra patient, accepting and loving which will strengthen our bonds and enable us to all emerge stronger.


We continue to daven for a refuah of all those affected with this terrible virus. We urge anyone who is sick, with any symptoms of illness, to limit unnecessary physical proximity to others. We encourage everyone to refrain, to the degree you’re able, from public gatherings. At the same time, even if you’re spending a lot of time at home, make sure to get fresh air and keep up your exercise regimen.


These unusual times require us to change our mindset. While all the precautionary measures and schedule changes are difficult, we are confident that these steps, together with tefillah, will help stem the inroads this disease is making in our country.


This Shabbat will be unique but hopefully meaningful. I will continue to provide regular updates over the course of the coming days. This unprecedented health crisis presents us as a larger Jewish community and as individuals, with the challenge of growing religiously and spiritually through the honoring of Shabbat, sincere tefillah, learning of Torah and growing peace and harmony in the home. There is uncertainty as to what lies ahead, but we are confident that with Hashem’s help, with our devotion, dedication and commitment to Torah, Mitzvot, Klal Yisrael, and human solidarity, we will overcome, persevere, and emerge stronger.


Shabbat shalom and love to all,

Rabbi Topp

Email sent March 12

Dear Friends,


These are unprecedented times that require each of us to take unusual measures. We all must proactively take steps to prevent the spreading of this terrible virus and thereby save lives. Halacha requires us to follow CDC and public health guidelines, while balancing our communal mitzvah obligations with the overarching supreme value of pikuach nefesh. It is therefore with a heavy heart but with conviction that I write you the letter below, jointly signed with other community rabbis, implementing this extreme but, in our view, necessary measure of closing down Shul from tomorrow Friday 10am through Monday, March 16, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated.


You can understand that our Shul leadership engaged in much deliberation before shutting down our beloved communal center. We love Shul and profoundly enjoy the collective learning, davening and smachot. However, we also recognize that our greatest value is prioritizing life- ubacharta bachayim which requires us to go above and beyond to protect each other and our fellow citizens.


While shul will be closed for all shiurim and minyanim for these few days (at least), please know that our clergy and staff are here to provide support and chizuk to each of you at any time. If you or anyone you know requires assistance in obtaining food, medicine or any deliveries please call me at 310-625-2064 or the Shul office at 310-278-1911, and our team will spring into action. Further details are included in the letter below. Let us all pray that Hashem grants healing to all those affected and brings an end to this crisis.



Rabbi Topp  




Dear Friends,


After lengthy conversations with a number of medical advisers both locally and nationally as well as local hospital officials, we have decided that at the moment the most prudent approach to help stem the tide of the Coronavirus in our community is to take the drastic action of closing our Shuls beginning Friday afternoon through Monday evening March 16th, at which time we will re-evaluate our decision and decide how to proceed.


What has been made abundantly clear to us in all our conversations is that this virus is highly contagious and spreads quickly via social interaction. In order to reduce the possibility of people being infected we are strongly recommending that everyone refrain from any public gathering, including home Minyanim, and limit your social interactions to only the most essential situations like grocery shopping. 


Due to our Shul closings we recommend the following:

·     Try to daven at the same time when your Minyan would have met.

·     Although Kriat HaTorah requires a Minyan and reading from a kosher Sefer Torah scroll, one should still read Parshat HaShavuah and Parshat Parah from a Chumash.


If you wish to pick up your Talit and Tefillin from Shul, please do so either today or Friday morning. Although no Minyanim and Shiurim will be taking place in our Shuls for the upcoming days, each rabbi will communicate with his membership about online learning opportunities. 


Please note that it is with a very heavy heart that we are taking this unprecedented action. We are doing this only because of the compelling nature of the circumstances and the Halakhic mandate to protect our health as our most important priority. While we will not have Tefilah B’Tzibur, we encourage you to utilize this time for introspection and reflection. Please intensify your Tefilot and pray that all those who are ill will be healed and that our community will be shielded from any harm.



Rabbi Pini Dunner, YINBH

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, Bnai David-Judea

Rabbi Elazar Muskin, Young Israel of Century City

Rabbi Kalman Topp, Beth Jacob Congregation

Rabbi Jason Weiner, Knesset Israel


Email Sent March 8

Dear Friends, 


As many of you know, a member of the Los Angeles Jewish community has been diagnosed with coronavirus. This individual is feeling well with minimal symptoms and we wish him a refuah shleimah. He and his family (although his family are not sick at all) will be quarantined at home for the next two weeks.


Please note the following:


• The man who has tested positive is not a member of Beth Jacob, but he is a member of the broader LA Orthodox Jewish community.


• The Health Department has determined that the virus was contracted at AIPAC this past Sunday or Monday. Since returning from AIPAC, this man and his family were not in Beth Jacob or any Shul in Los Angeles- Beverly Hills. Therefore, there are no additional risks to Beth Jacob due to this case.


• In an effort to exercise extra caution due to the global/national health crisis, we have decided that it is prudent to cancel our Purim Carnival Monday night, particularly considering that it involves significant social interaction and it is not obligatory. 


• All Megillah readings and minyanim will proceed as scheduled.


As a shul we will continue to implement the guidelines recommended by the CDC.


Please refer to our email from this past Wednesday with General and Halachic guidelines.


The most important brief reminders include:


• If you are not feeling well and have any symptoms of illness, please do not come to Shul (or attend public gatherings etc.)


• We ask people to refrain from shaking hands while at Beth Jacob.


• For those who cannot attend Shul because of illness or because you consider yourself in the “vulnerable population,” if there is no alternative (eg a baal koreh reading for the person at home/nearby room), due to the extenuating circumstances, it is permissible to fulfill the mitzvah of mikra megillah via phone or livestream video. For this purpose, Beth Jacob is setting up a Facebook livestream of Jay Braun’s reading of the Megillah in Shapell Sanctuary Monday at 7:40pm, and also for the Tuesday morning 9am reading. Here is the link: Beth Jacob Megilla Livestream


If you have any questions about the above or otherwise, please contact me at


While this moment reminds us of our vulnerability, we maintain calm and move forward, taking reasonable precautionary steps, while drawing strength from our faith in HaShem and bonds with each other.


Our thoughts and prayers for refuah shleimah go out to all those affected by COVID-19, and we pray for the good health and welfare of all.


ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר- like the Jewish people in the Megillah experienced the light and happiness of salvation, כן תהיה לנו- so shall it be for our community, the Jewish people and the entire world. שנשמע בשורות טובות- may we hear good news.


Easy fast and Happy Purim,

Rabbi Topp



Email Sent March 4

Dear Friends,


We are all concerned about the developing health crisis and are praying for the recovery of all those affected by the coronavirus. This morning, Los Angeles County declared a health emergency and we also have been following the unsettling news about the Jewish families and institutions affected in the NY area. While maintaining calm, this is a time to exercise vigilance, fully cognizant of the teaching of Chazal that pikuach nefesh, danger to our health, is a matter that supersedes all other mitzvot and concerns (Talmud Yoma 85).


While most people who contract coronavirus will be fine, as if dealing with a flu or cold, our concern must be for those who are most vulnerable- those immuno-compromised, people with respiratory conditions, the elderly and young children- therefore, for our sake and theirs, we must be as safe and vigilant as possible.


As an addendum to our email message yesterday, the following are some general and halachic guidelines:


  1. As health officials have been emphasizing, we urge common-sense hygiene and specifically regular hand washing, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap/water are not available, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Cover your cough or sneeze, preferably with a tissue that is immediately disposed of or, minimally, into your sleeve. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  2. For the time being, in accordance with the announcement from public health officials to “opt for verbal salutations in place of hugs and handshakes,” we ask people NOT to shake hands while at Beth Jacob. To ensure that nobody feels any social pressure to either extend or reciprocate the gesture, please do not engage in handshaking. Elbow bumps, nods or good old-fashioned greetings of good morning or Shabbat Shalom should be used at the current time.
  3. As per guidance from Chief Rabbi David Lau, in abundance of caution, we kindly ask that people refrain in Shul from kissing the Sefer Torah, siddurim/chumashim or the Mezuzot.
  4.  Our maintenance staff is being especially vigilant to disinfect the building regularly.
  5. Until advised by the CDC or the LA County Health Department to do otherwise, all Beth Jacob minyanim and programs on Shabbat and during the week, including Megillah readings and Purim programs, are taking place as scheduled, and as always, we encourage you to join us. However, if you are not feeling well and have any symptoms of illness, please DO NOT come to Shul during the week or Shabbat. (Moreover, as we wrote yesterday, if you recently traveled to countries significantly affected by the coronavirus or if you have come into close personal contact with someone who is experiencing symptoms or recently returned from any of these areas, we ask that you not enter the premises of Beth Jacob Congregation for a period of 14 days). This is true even for Parshat Zachor, Megillah Reading or if you are saying Kaddish for yahrzeit or as an Avel. These are all exceedingly important but pikuach nefesh and our health, as well as of others, supersedes all other considerations.
  6. For those who cannot attend Shul because of illness or because you consider yourself in the “vulnerable population,” I recommend the following: For Zachor this Shabbat, the portion may be read at home from a Chumash and then may be properly fulfilled later in the year while listening to Parshat Ki Teitzei. For the reading of the Megillah, if there is no alternative (eg a baal koreh reading it for the person at home/nearby room), Rabbi Hershel Schachter has issued a psak that for such an individual, due to the extenuating circumstances, it is permissible to fulfill the mitzvah of mikra megillah via a live phone call or livestream video. 


Let us all do our best to stay safe, stay calm and daven to Hashem. May the month of Adar and the holiday of Purim bring about a modern day “venahafoch hu” for this epidemic, and may we be blessed with besorot tovot- good news and good health for all.



Rabbi Topp

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Thu, April 22 2021 10 Iyyar 5781