PDF of Cleveland Doctors Letter
As Torah observant Jews, we recognize the obligation to save lives (נפשׁ פּיקוּח (as a value that overrides nearly every other religious obligation. We likewise seek to avoid situations of נפּשׁוֹת סכּנת) threats to human life), even when undertaken for supremely important purposes – tefilla, celebrations of shabbos and yom tov and Torah study. As physicians, we are concerned that over the next few weeks and months our community will see an increase in the local spread of COVID19, which could ו”ח ּendanger the health and lives of many of our friends, neighbors and family. We write what follows both to reiterate basic public health principles and warn the community about specific risks to be avoided.
The following are the basic principles of infection control that remain as relevant now as when this pandemic began:
- COVID-19 is an airborne virus that is spread primarily through respiratory droplets: Talking, coughing, singing, and shouting generate droplets that can travel significant distances and remain on surfaces for hours. This means that our davening and simchas are not risk-free; such gatherings can be the starting point for serious outbreaks.
- Masks (when worn over both the nose and mouth) reduce the spread of these respiratory droplets and decrease the likelihood of being infected and infecting others. This is not a political opinion or ideological fad; it has been an accepted infection control practice in the clinic, hospital ward, and operating room for the past century.
- Physical distancing, even while outdoors, protects you and others from coming into contact with infectious material. By the same principle, coming close to other people – even sharing a l’chaim or leaning in to wish a “mazel tov” – can spread infection. Any crowded event, even if planned carefully and with the best of intentions, can lead to the spread of the virus. This includes such normally benign venues as a beis medrash or men’s mikva during the pre-yom tov rush.
- The virus can spread after the crowd is gone by remaining on one’s hands after touching a contaminated person or surface. If the hands come close to the eyes, nose, and mouth, minutes or even hours later, COVID-19 can enter. Sanitizing the hands thoroughly and often is essential to staying safe.
- You do not need to feel sick to be contagious. Data demonstrate COVID patients can be contagious up to two days prior to exhibiting symptoms, or can be infected without any symptoms at all, making it easy for COVID-19 to spread silently among or between households and communities. That means you don’t have to look or feel sick to get others sick. But if you do feel unwell, it is especially important to protect those around you by isolating yourself.
We ask that every member of our community re-commit to keeping everyone safe by:
- Avoiding creating or attending events in which there is crowding.
- Wearing a mask – properly and consistently – in shul, in the beis medrash and in school – and teaching your children to do the same.
- Isolating or quarantining after exposure to high risk situations, even if it means missing out on shul, school or a simcha.
- Being mindful of the risks when traveling to, or hosting guests from, other communities and geographic regions.
As physicians, we remind you to:
- Consider what we all have to lose: Local schools and shuls have invested enormous amounts of energy, time and money toward the goal of bringing us back in person. Rabbonim, doctors and lay leaders have set aside other projects to devote themselves almost exclusively to this goal. This achievement should not be taken for granted nor assumed to be permanent.
- Trust medicine and science: While there are many uncertainties in medicine, what we have written is based on the best available scientific evidence right now. As doctors, we began our careers with a commitment to “do no harm” and we are now asking the same of our community.
- Remember what this virus is capable of doing: Our friends and family in the New York area have had first-hand experience with the carnage of an out-of-control epidemic. That our community, ה”בּ ,was unaffected a few months ago does not mean that we are immune now. This virus has killed nearly 200,000 people, in the United States and over 1,000 in Israel, and while we may be tired, it is not. This is no time to let down our guard.
We conclude with wishes for year of health, success and safety for our entire community, and with earnest prayers to the Ribono Shel Olam to protect His people.
Names appear in alphabetical order and have been updated as of 9/17/2020, 4:00 PM
Mark Aeder MD General and Transplant Surgery
Josh Arbesman MD Dermatology
Daniel Asher MD Anesthesiology, Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology
David Bar-Shain MD Pediatrics, Clinical Informatics
Akiva Berger DDS General Dentistry
Nate Bergman DO Internal Medicine, Geriatrics
Yael Dahan MD Anesthesiology
Joel David DO Internal Medicine
Francine Erenberg MD Pediatric Cardiology
Ben Esraeilian DPM Podiatry
Daniel Fleksher MD Internal Medicine
Elisha Fredman MD Radiation Oncology
Rachel Garber MD Pediatrics
Sara Goldman MD Psychiatry, Adult Inpatient Psychiatry
Jessica Goldstein MD Emergency Medicine
David Gottesman MD Gastroenterology
Dovid Gutman MD Internal Medicine
Adam Haas MD Anesthesiology
Rafi Israeli MD Emergency Medicine
Avi Jacobs MD Cardiology
Lawrence Jacobs MD Cardiology
Daniel Kahn DO Nephrology
Saul Kane MD Gastroenterology
Fred Kessler MD Gastroenterology
Jonathan Klein MD Emergency Medicine
Michael Kurin MD Gastroenterology
Jeffrey Lautman MD Nephrology
David Lever MD Gastroenterology
Yehudah Lindenberg MD Neurology
David Liska MD Colorectal Surgery
Rebecca Lowenthal MD, MPH Family Medicine
Leon Margolin MD Pain Medicine
Shmuel Margolin MD Internal Medicine
Yael Mauer MD, MPH Internal Medicine, Primary care and hospital medicine
Bryan Michelow MD Plastic Surgery
Howard Nathan MD Internal Medicine, Hospitalist
Joel Peerless MD Critical Care
Meir Pollack MD Gastroenterology
Moshe Prero MD Pediatrics
Michael Rothberg MD, MPH Internal Medicine
Yosef Rudolph MD Neurology
Samuel Salamon MD Ophthalmology
Yehuda Salamon MD Anesthesiology
Amy Schechter MD Internal Medicine
Gila Schiowitz DO Pediatrics, Hospitalist
Steven Schwartz MD Geriatrics
Seth Sclair MD Gastroenterology, Transplant Hepatology
Shelly Senders MD Pediatrics
Anna Serels MD Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Marina Shpilko DO Emergency Medicine
Warren Sobol MD Ophthalmology, Retina
Benjamin Spinner MD Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry
Josh Sunshine MD Neurology
Ira Taub MD Pediatrics, Pediatric Cardiology
Yael Taub MD Emergency Medicine
Philip Toltzis MD Pediatric Critical Care, Infectious Disease
Franky Weinberger DO Rheumatology
Rachel Weinerman MD Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Ari Wiesen MD Gastroenterology
Carly Wilbur MD Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Brian Wolovitz MD Internal Medicine