March 13, 2020
The landscape for the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly changing. The World Health Organization is calling it a pandemic, and both the Governments of Canada and Quebec are urging that we take concrete steps to minimize the escalation of the outbreak.
Throughout this rapidly evolving situation we have been consulting with public health authorities and experts. It is now clear that the best way to flatten the curve and minimize the spread of the virus is social distancing. We encourage everyone to abide by the guidelines published by the Quebec Ministry of Health as well as the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
Federation CJA will be taking the following measures to ensure that we are doing our part to promote social distancing. All measures below are effective immediately and will be in effect until after Passover and will be evaluated regularly as the situation is fluid and evolving:
- Federation CJA is postponing or cancelling all events and gatherings planned;
- All non-essential in person meetings are cancelled; remote access meetings are encouraged wherever possible;
- Gelber Conference Centre will be closed, cancelling all meetings/events;
- Access to Federation CJA properties including, 5151 Cote St Catherine Rd, Jack Reitman Hillel House and Federation CJA West Island will be limited to staff, one-on-one meetings and essential services;
- Screening will take place when entering any Federation CJA facility;
- All Federation CJA properties listed above will be closed nightly at 6pm;
- Federation CJA has cancelled all business related travel;
- Any staff returning from personal travel are asked to remain home for 14 days after their return. Individuals must notify their managers and HR.
In moving forward we are committed to living up to our mission and particularly our role in supporting the vulnerable. We need to ensure that the elderly, the isolated and the ill have the support they need during this challenging period. We are working with our agencies on how best to address this situation and will be sharing our action plan with you in the coming days.
More than ever, our sense of community and the eternal connection we feel for one another needs to remain strong, without compromising the social distancing principles articulated above. So much of Jewish life revolves around spending time with one another in person, be it at synagogue or day school or, in less than a month, at the Seder table. These communal experiences will almost certainly face enormous disruption as we, rightly, enter a period of social distancing.
In this day and age, the use of technology can help with social isolation of vulnerable populations. Let’s take this opportunity to regularly schedule “check-ins” by phone or FaceTime with elderly family, friends, or neighbours. Better yet, commit to doing so in a coordinated fashion as a synagogue or community group, ensuring an even greater impact.
Finally, we are aware that these measures will have a financial impact on many in our community and in the short term make it difficult for some to make ends meet. We are pleased to share with you that an additional source of relief has been offered through the Hebrew Free Loan Association, which is providing interest free loans to cover, for example, lost wages, increased child care costs and small business losses.
All of us appreciate that these actions are a significant change in behaviour; one that is critical for the safety – the health and well-being – of our community. To be clear, social distancing will only work if it becomes a shared responsibility. All of us need to collaborate to flatten the curve.
Thank you for your support and understanding, and rest assured that we will continue to monitor the situation and keep you advised of developments. Please come back to out website for regular updates.
Let’s remain strong and vigilant as together we face this challenge.