PSC’s Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

To Our PSC Community:

It has been an emotional, whirlwind of a week.  The anxiety and fear of the unknown are real, not to mention the growing tension between wanting to be a connected, sacred community and practicing mindful social distancing.  To make the safety and well being of our community the top priority, we are writing to share with you some important updates about the weeks ahead.

Medical Task Force

In order to assess our communal response to the ever-changing situation, we have set up a Medical Task Force made up of Rabbi Helfand, Cantor Shapira, Cat Bernard, our President, Adrienne Abrams, and two medical professionals, Irene Moff, M.D. and Linda Oberstein, M.D.  The task force has come to some decisions that we know will be difficult but necessary to try to keep our community healthy. Most importantly, we believe that these guidelines will help us live up to the teachings in our tradition, “V’nishmartem Me’od L’nafshoteichem–you should watch yourselves very well” (Deuteronomy 4:15).

Shabbat and Closure Updates

As we become more and more aware of the importance of social distancing for everyone, not just those who are more vulnerable, we have made the heart-wrenching decision to close the PSC building and cancel all in-person services, classes, meetings and programs through the end of March. While we do not know of anyone in our immediate community who has tested positive for COVID-19 at this time, we want to prioritize pikuach nefesh, the Jewish value and law to care for the preservation of human life above all else. We will be sending out information about all sorts of virtual opportunities to connect and learn in the coming days.

At the same time, we also recognize that now more than ever there is the need for spiritual and sacred connecting. In an effort to celebrate Shabbat and come together for minyan, PSC will be going virtual. If you feel comfortable doing so, please consider joining us virtually over Shabbat and during the week for minyan, to say Kaddish, or to see and smile at a familiar face. All virtual minyanim will be held over Zoom and Facebook Live. If you’ve never used Zoom, click here for a quick tutorial.

  • Minyanim during the week will be held on Facebook Live at the following times: Monday night at 5:15 pm, Tuesday evening at 7:15 pm, and Thursday morning at 7:00 am.

Help vulnerable families during the COVID-19 crisis

As our community deals with the COVID-19 public health crisis, neighbors experiencing or on the brink of poverty are disproportionately impacted. Working families who rely on hourly wages are scared as shifts and pay are being cut.

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley remains committed to providing nutritious food to anyone who needs it. Help us reach our goal to help Second Harvest respond to the increased need and continue providing food all throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties!

During these uncertain times, your gift will help our community feel secure and stay healthy.

You can make a donation to PSC’s Virtual Food Drive at

Upcoming Programming

In order to prioritize the health and safety of our community, we are cancelling all in-person adult-learning opportunities effective immediately.  This includes:

  • Tuesday evening (Liturgy with Cantor Doron), Thursday afternoon (Theology with Rabbi Helfand), Friday morning (Torah Study) and Sunday morning (Talmud) classes with the clergy have been cancelled until further notice.  We are experimenting with offering classes over Zoom and will share more details as they become available.
  • The Spirituality of Parenting class with Rabbi Sarah Shulman will be rescheduled for a later time.
  • Jewish Heritage Night at the San Jose Sharks on March 19, has been cancelled.
  • The Women’s Seder on March 29 has been cancelled.  We are working on a possible in-home alternative ritual as a way of continuing to observe this special program.  More details to come.
  • Men’s Club Shabbat is cancelled on April 4.  We will plan to reschedule in the coming months.
  • At this time, the 2nd night seder and Yom Hashoah are still on as planned, though we will keep you posted on any changes in the coming weeks.

Kesher and Youth Programming

  • Beginning immediately, we will be transitioning Kesher to remote learning.  While we prepare, we are going to cancel Kesher on Sunday morning, March 15.
  • We will keep you posted on upcoming learning opportunities for tot, K-7 and teen age groups.  We are grateful to Rabbi Levenberg for her leadership in supporting this change and finding unique opportunities to engage our students and their families.
  • We are also working to adjust the schedules for our upcoming Director of Youth Education and Programming candidates.  We will keep you apprised of those changes as they become available. If you are available next week and are interested in participating in a small group gathering with our upcoming candidate please email Ornit Rose at [email protected].

Spending Shabbat at home and unplugged? Consider these ways to connect:

  • Go all out and set a beautiful table, and then recite the blessings over the candles, wine and challah. Check out this link for a “how-to” guide.
  • Consider singing a joyful Shabbat song or niggun.
  • Read a good book, take a walk or sit outside.
  • Play a board game with your immediate family or take a Shabbat nap.
  • Join us for a virtual minyan or consider praying at home.
  • If you’d like to say kaddish for a loved one and prefer to do so on your own, consider using Rav Amram Gaon’s (9th century Babylonia) Kaddish for an individual or this alternative Kaddish prayer.

Most importantly, we strongly encourage you to practice self-care – wash your hands and pay attention to your mental and physical health. We will be checking phone messages several times per day, so feel free to leave a message at 650-349-2816 or email [email protected] if you need anything or have questions. You can also reach Rabbi Helfand at 650-701-7720 or Cantor Doron at 650-235-5022. And if you need support of any kind (a phone call, groceries, a meal…), please reach out to [email protected] and we will make sure that you get the help that you need. If you are interested in being a part of this hesed team, please email the same address to let us know. Our community is present for each other at this unprecedented time and always.

In friendship and health,
Your PSC Team and Medical Task Force

Important Health and Safety Reminders

  • If you have a fever or have any cold symptoms (sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, or cough), please take care of yourself at home and contact your physician as needed. Recommendations are to stay home for 48 hours after your symptoms are cleared up.
  • If you are at higher risk for complications from Coronavirus, including senior citizens, anyone who is immunocompromised or has a chronic medical condition, and pregnant women or if you live with anyone who is at higher risk, we recommend that you avoid all social gatherings, including any synagogue services. We will support you in whatever way you need.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water frequently – before eating, preparing, or serving food, after sneezing or blowing your nose, or when entering your house, the synagogue or any new location. Hand sanitizer is not as effective but is a decent alternative when soap and water are not available. Try our new timers in the bathrooms.
  • Use respiratory etiquette – cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or tissue, throw the tissue into the trash and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Wave to your friends or elbow bump rather than shaking hands, kissing or hugging.
  • Remember to stay well hydrated. Think of it like a perpetual pre-Yom Kippur ritual to perpetually drink as if you were going to fast.

Further Information

San Mateo County Health Department:


CDC Covid 19 Update:

Kaiser Permanente:

Jewish Family and Children Services –, Resource Guide