White House Has Conference Call With Leading Rebbes
Washington – The White House, in an extraordinary conference call with leading rebbes, encouraged the Orthodox community to embrace social distancing and voluntary quarantining as part of a national effort to combat the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic.
Participating in the conference call were the two rebbes of Satmar, the Vizhnitzer of Monsey, Vien, Pupa and Bobov-45. Yanky Mayer of Misaskim and representatives of Chabad were also on.
The call was led by Avi Berkowitz, the White House’s special adviser for international affairs. It was organized by Jared Kushner, who reached out personally to Rabbi Leizer Kestenbaum of the ODA clinic in Williamsburg and askan Shulem Deutsch.
Berkowitz, a frum Jew and graduate of a Queens yeshiva, encouraged the rebbes and call participants to institute drastic social distancing in their respective kehillas. In particular, he discussed closing chasuna and bar mitzvah halls and mikvaos.
He also suggested implementing keeping people far away from each other during davening.
The call apparently worked. Within minutes of its conclusion, Rav Aharon Teitelbaum, the Satmar rebbe of Kiryas Joel, announced the closure of all his shuls and yeshivas.
The coronavirus has erupted in Boro Park and other frum areas in the past few days, with hundreds of new cases.