Have you noticed our communities seem to become hotbeds of infection? Why do contagions spread so easily among us: hepatitis A, measles, the flu (influenza)? Already in NYC, there is a frum person with coronavirus (novel COVID-19). Many in our communities have risk factors and want to decrease their risk of contagion and risk of spreading.
Yes, we have large families, and small living quarters, but there are ways to decrease our risk. Here are some suggestions:
Hand Washing with soap!
Hand washing is the number one way to protect yourself from the virus. If you don’t have soap, use hand sanitizer. But hand sanitizer only works if your hands are not visibly soiled – if your hands don’t look clean, wash them first.
No hand sanitizer? Alcohol in a small spritz bottle works too.
Wash your hands Eeach and every time after the bathroom, changing a diaper, wiping a nose, before cooking, and before eating.
Wash towels frequently, or use disposable
Try not to touch your face, mouth, eyes, nose. Teach your family
Here are some more specific areas of concern in our communities to use safer hygiene practices.
1. Kissing the Mezuzah
Clean the mezuzahs and disinfect the mezuzah frequently. You can make a good disinfecting solution by mixing one part household bleach in 9 parts water. Better yet, think about using an air touch, not a physical touch.
2. The Kvart (washing cup, netilas yadayim cup)
It needs to be washed out frequently (sanitized). Consider carrying around a plastic cup for personal use only, or wash with soap and water and then disinfect. How many touch the one in shul?
Do not use it to rinse your mouth. (Yes, I have seen that done)
3. Spitting during Aleynu
That carries bacteria on your shoes that your crawling baby picks up on their hands which go right into their mouth
Maybe at this time do not actually release saliva (spit).
Try taking off your shoes and put on house slippers when you get home. Have guests take off their shoes too. (Many countries have this custom)
4. Towels in Shul and Public’s Places
Use a paper towel, tissues, napkins. If it’s damp or wet, it could be a source of infection.
- Consider pouring kiddish out for guests and family members before drinking.
- Consider using a salt shaker, not touching it with your fingers
- For netilas yadayim, prepare paper towels before Shabbos or use napkins. Don’t make your Family and guests use the same cloth towel.
- Consider putting the challah on a plate to pass around
- When cooking, use a spoon to taste the food, and use a clean spoon with each taste.
- At the table, provide serving spoons, so people won’t have to use their personal forks and spoons (which they put in their mouths). use a spoon to taste the food, use a clean spoon with each taste.
6. General areas of Concern
- Do you really need to kiss, hug or shake hands with everyone?.
- Try not to touch your face, mouth, eyes, nose. We do not realize how often we touch our face. Teach your family.
- Cough or sneeze into your tissue. Not your hand, or on others.
- Do you feel ill? Did you travel where there is widespread cases? Stay home, avoid shul, work, school.
- Clean keyboards, phones, doorknobs, mezuzah, kvart, doors, handrails.
Consider smaller shalach manos with prepackaged food. Your amazing home baked goodies may end up in the garbage because people may be afraid of exposure. Save your time and money! Consider Giving it to Tzedakah. Is it time to consider smaller gatherings to hear Megillah?
May everyone stay healthy and well and may we be zoche to greet Moshiach immediately