Jewish Federation Urges Calm and Coordinates Response to Coronavirus

PITTSBURGH—The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is working to calm fears in the Pittsburgh Jewish community during the COVID-19/Coronavirus threat, by formulating a response together with other Jewish agencies.

“It’s important for many people in the Jewish community to know that their Jewish institutions and synagogues have plans to keep them safe and informed.”

Meryl K. Ainsman, Chair of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

The Jewish Federation has been taking the following steps:

  1. Arranging a meeting with Dr. Jennifer Rudin, an infectious disease specialist, for synagogues and Jewish agencies yesterday, March 9;
  2. Meeting with executive directors from large Jewish agencies;
  3. Collecting and sharing communications that synagogues and agencies have already made to congregants and community members to share best practices and enable smaller agencies to re-use relevant ideas;
  4. Coordinating common language for agencies to use to help calm fears among community members;
  5. Communicating regularly with police and first responders to ensure that Jewish institutions remain safe.

“The Jewish Federation is in touch with our national organizations and local health officials and will keep community agencies and synagogues updated with all pertinent information. Additionally, we have a plan in place at the Federation to deal with all contingencies as we move forward,” Ainsman said.

Dr. Jennifer Rudin has practiced in Pittsburgh and served as chair of infection control committees in various hospitals for more than 30 years.  She recently served as president of the medical staff at Forbes Hospital. Dr. Rudin has consulted on coronavirus for Pittsburgh’s Jewish day schools, the Jewish mikveh (ritual bath), and some synagogues in recent weeks.

“We are fortunate to have built great relationships among synagogues, Jewish agencies and the Jewish Federation over the past decade, and these strong relationships have enabled us to coordinate a response to the coronavirus quickly and efficiently,” said Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh CEO Jeffrey Finkelstein. “Our topmost priority is the safety and health of the Jewish community, so we are making plans among all of our organizations out of an abundance of caution. People in the Jewish community should feel secure knowing that lots of people are taking care of them.”

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