The letter follows:
To Our Beloved Community,
I want to begin by thanking the men, women, and children of our community for their efforts in helping to keep our greater Kehilla Kedosha safe as the pandemic continues. It is hard to believe that with the arrival of Purim we will mark a year since the pandemic changed every aspect of our lives. With incredible Siyata D’Shmaya we have access to vaccines, and we all hope that in the coming weeks and months they will be made more widely available. But we cannot let our guard down. We must continue to be vigilant for the safety of our community and as responsible citizens. Purim is a time of great simcha, and it is our sacred mission to feel this joy, albeit in a responsible fashion.
Shuls: We ask that our community Shuls remain committed to mandatory mask wearing and social distancing during davening, learning and shiurim. We understand the discomfort, but it is a small price to pay for safeguarding the health of your neighbor.
Megillah: When possible, Shuls should arrange for multiple Megillah readings so that all have the opportunity to fulfill this sacred mitzvah.
Mesibos and Seudos: Community Purim seudos, mesibos or other gatherings, even with appropriate precautions, should be avoided. Purim seudos must necessarily be limited due to social distancing requirements, avoidance of prolonged exposure, and singing and dancing in enclosed spaces. For those who have not achieved immunity, the Purim Seudah would best be conducted within the family “bubble.”
Mishloach Manos: In fulfilling the mitzvah of mishloach manos, it would be prudent to minimize social interaction with the people to whom we give.
Matanos L’evyonim/Tzedaka: We must redouble our efforts this year to take care of those in need. There are so many who are suffering in silence and your generosity can infuse simcha and optimism on this special day. Bochurim should not go out in groups to collect money.
Reaching Out: There are still so many in our community who are alone and struggling. There are individuals and families who have become socially isolated as a result of this prolonged pandemic. While it is wonderful to give Mishloach Manos to your friends, it is even better to use this mitzvah as an opportunity to create new friendships. Think about the people in your Shul, on your block, and in your building, who can use a little extra love and attention and reach out.
If you cannot think of anyone, please reach out to your Rav for some ideas. The true power of Purim lies in the achdus of Klal Yisroel. In a time of such fragmentation, let us each do our own small part in bringing our people closer together.
Each time, I write one of these letters, I daven that it will be the last. I fervently hope that B’ezras Hashem, the deliverance of Purim followed by the geula of Pesach will mark the end of this difficult chapter for us, and invoke a new chapter starting with “The Harbinger of Good Tidings” voicing his message of the coming of Moshiach, bimhairah b’yamainu, Amain.
Yaakov Hopfer on behalf of the Vaad Harabanim of Baltimore