Central Conference of American Rabbis Statement on the Primacy of Saving Lives during the COVID-19 Crisis

April 27, 2020

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), guided by the highest mitzvah in Jewish tradition of pikuach nefesh, the saving of lives, urges federal and state governments as well as local municipalities and communities—in the United States, in Canada, in Israel, and around the world—to be guided by medical science as they consider relaxing shelter-in-place orders and guidelines.

The CCAR also asks our nation’s leaders to redouble efforts to ensure reliable virus testing is available on a massive scale so that any return to normalcy may be based on sound information. The permanent eradication of the coronavirus, however, ultimately depends upon the development of an effective vaccine. To this end, we are grateful that Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have introduced a bill to support U.S.-Israeli cooperation in developing new medical treatments and we encourage its full support and adoption as part of the upcoming Phase 4/CARES 2 legislation.

Reform rabbis and our institutional partners are observing shelter-in-place orders, even where the law does not require, in order to best protect the health of our communities. We commend the vast majority of American governors, as well as Canadian federal and provincial leaders and Israeli officials, who have established and enforced strong measures to protect public health. And we encourage our leaders, together with news desks and related media outlets, to focus attention on and to highlight the courageous men and women who are working tirelessly for the same, and to disregard the false claims and dangerous demands of those who are endangering their own health and the health of others by gathering to protest public health measures.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis joins people throughout the world in prayer—for the souls of those lost, for comfort for those mourning loved ones during terribly sad conditions, and for healing for all who are sick. We are grateful to health care providers, first responders, and all essential workers who place their lives at risk in order to assure the rest of us can survive this pandemic. We yearn for the day when we may join hands once again—in prayer, in community, and in person.

Rabbi Ron Segal, President

Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive

Central Conference of American Rabbis