Welcome to the Toronto Board of Rabbis

How is this Passover different than all other Passovers?

On all other Passovers there were no pandemics, but on this Passover, COVID-19 plagues the world.

Passover is a time when many gather with friends and family or join together in community seders. Barring a major downgrading of COVID-19 concerns by Public Health Toronto, it is clear that such gatherings should not happen this year.

The best public health advice at this moment is for everyone to stay home as much as possible. This is for your own health and the health of society at large. As such, Passover Seders should only be celebrated with the members of one’s immediate household. To be clear, especially since those over the age of 65 are at increased risk of death from COVID-19, seniors in our community should prioritize taking care of their health over family celebrations for the duration of this crisis, even if that means not spending seder night together with the family. We understand that this will be a heartbreaking reality and a major disruption for many.

There are many wonderful ways to celebrate Passover, even as we limit human contact. Please speak with your local rabbi for guidance.

To paraphrase the Talmud: Better we should have one less-than-ideal Passover, so that we can celebrate many Passovers in the future.  (Yoma 85b)

24 Adar 5780

March 20, 2020


A Letter to Our Community Regarding Covid 19 and Funerals

We write to you today with new guidelines for funeral and shiva observance to meet the urgency of the current health crisis due to the spread of COVID-19. These are extraordinary times and they do call for measures we would never contemplate under other circumstances.

We take very seriously our obligations to our loved ones and the desire to honour those who have died. Equally so, we take seriously our obligations to the living to protect and keep us all in good health as long as we can.

We therefore advise under the strongest possible terms the following approaches to the observance of funerals and mourning in our community:

  • All funerals should be private and by family invitation only.
  • Attendance should be limited to the innermost circle of loved ones only, ideally solely the primary mourners.
  • Funerals should be graveside only.
  • Anyone experiencing the following should not attend a funeral or public gathering
    • fever, cough, sore throat, or other flu-like symptoms
    • contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or symptoms
    • return from outside the country within 2 weeks

Shivas should be private and those wishing to offer their condolences should do so by phone or other means of communication.

We wish circumstances were different. However, as we read in Kohelet, there is “a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.” Each embrace we refrain from now is potentially a life saved later. Let us embrace each other by other means in these days and weeks ahead, attending to each other by phone, letter, email, and virtual communications.

We pray for speedy healing to all those currently experiencing the virus. We ask the Holy Blessed One, ufros aleinu sukkat sholmeicha, spread over us the shelter of your peace as we continue to navigate this moment.

20 Adar 5780/March 16, 2020

Ontario Covid-19 Information

COVID-19 and our Community

While Judaism is concerned with our spiritual and emotional well-being, it also teaches that we must do everything we can to maintain our physical health.  Furthermore, Judaism stresses our responsibility towards the welfare of the entire community.

Congregations throughout the GTA are implementing strict protocols in line with public health recommendations.  We strongly urge all congregants to follow the strictest measures possible for the sake of pikuach nefesh (saving a life). This includes added vigilance for people with health issues and individuals 65 and older.

As we institute social distancing in our communities it will have drastic effects on services, life-cycle events and smachot.  Realize that restrictions are in place for your protection.  It also means that people who are vulnerable may be home-bound.  Please consider maintaining contact with such individuals by various methods of communication.

At this time of communal great communal need we turn to God for strength and guidance.  We pray for the refuah shleimah of all affected individuals.  We pray for the wellbeing of our healthcare providers and officials; may they be guided with wisdom and insight.  We pray for health, strength, patience and perseverance.  May all of us do our part to protect the residents of Canada. Ufros aleinu sukkat shlomecha, may God’s sukkah of peace and wholeness be spread over all of us.

More information:

Public Health Ontario