by COLlive reporter
A report that one of the Israeli bochurim who recently arrived in Crown Heights while being infected with Covid-19 has caused concern among neighborhood residents.
The Kvutzah group of bochurim had recently traveled to Crown Heights after spending a period of time quarantining in Connecticut, however, the parents of the bochurim had been informed by the organizers of the quarantine that it had not been a complete 2 weeks which was required by the community doctors.
The bochurim had been arriving over the course of 5 days, the organizers said, and they had only been in Connecticut for 10 days in total.
Rabbi Moshe Meir Gluckowsky, administrator of the Central Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch – 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, says the group should have remained in quarantine for two full weeks starting from the day the last bochur arrived.
The saga of the Kvutzah bochurim’s status began when coronavirus broke out in New York’s Jewish neighborhoods right after Purim. For their own safety and the safety of residents, the bochurim were asked to return home to Israel.
Since then, the Gedaliah Society, Dr. Eli Rosen and members of the Crown Heights Beis Din asked out of towners not to visit the neighborhood following the heavy loss of life.
Rabbi Gluckowsky says that he has been working for months to find a solution that would allow the new crop of Kvutzah bochurim to arrive safely for the new year.
“I was working all summer trying to come up with a plan with Dr. Rosen, the Gedalia Society and Rabbi Yosef Braun,” he told COLlive.com on Wednesday. “I insisted not to reopen the institution until it is safe and with their guidelines in place.”
He says that a separate organization named “Iggud Talmidei Hakvutza,” which operates independently of the Yeshiva, attempted to circumvent his concerns and objections and made their own arrangements for the new group of bochurim.
“Even though they were not authorized to do so, the Iggud promised the parents of the students that they would provide full room and board as well as student papers, circumventing the official administration,” Rabbi Gluckowsky said.
Rabbi Gluckowsky says that the bochurim who were part of this group have come to Crown Heights without having access to the Yeshiva’s official dorm at 1414 President Street.
As reported on COLlive.com, the Kvutzah group has indeed entered the United States but were sent to quarantine together at a campground in Connecticut.
“They came to Crown Heights on Thursday, before 2 weeks of quarantine were completed,” Rabbi Gluckowsky says. “Their official reasoning was that since Friday was 15 Elul (the day of the founding of the Yeshiva), they wanted the bochurim to celebrate the day in 770, however, I surmise that the decision was made to save on the expense of providing room and board for the bochurim out of state.”
The Gedalia Society and Dr. Rosen stated that they did not agree to allow the shortening of the quarantine of the kevutza in Connecticut.
“We said and still say that it has to be a minimum of 14 from when the last person arrives. It may be extended based on circumstances, but for sure no less than the 14 days,” they said.
“They went against the rabbonim and the doctors and made the arrangements under false pretenses,” Rabbi Gluckowsky says. “If they were worried about the community, they would not bring them in. They shouldn’t have come and waited until it was done correctly, for the safety of the entire community.”
All Kevutza bochurim, who have been spending time at the main shul of 770 learning, davening and joining in Farbrengens, were told on Wednesday to quarantine in their dorms.
Rabbi Braun, member of the Beis Din, was heard on a voice note expressing concern over the general disregard for health regulations as the number of Covid cases rise in frum communities in New York.
“I’m not even convinced that 770 should be open now,” he was heard saying. “The lack of adherence to (doctor’s) instructions at 770 concerns me. There are many reasons that cause this concern. Personally, I have avoided walking into 770 in the last few months (with the exception to do a Siyum and on Chai Elul, while having a mask etc).”