Message to the South African Jewish Community

Dear SA Jewish Community,

Last night our joint communal leadership from around the country met to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on our country and in particular our community and our communal organisations.

It is encouraging to learn how much work has already been done by our various communal bodies to prepare for this pandemic. These plans were shared at the meeting with a view to everyone benefiting from best practice and also to coordinate and streamline our responses within our various sectors.

The meeting was addressed by Professor Barry Schoub, Founder and Former Director of the National Institute of Communal Diseases and Dr Richard Friedland, CEO of Netcare. Both have been integrally involved in advising and assisting our communal organisations in their planning. They will continue to support our efforts and be on hand to provide ongoing guidance. The attached communal guidelines were determined in consultation with these experts.

As an important outcome of the meeting, a facility will be set up where Prof Schoub will provide updates on a daily basis on issues of concern to the community. There will also be an online platform for community members to ask their questions. Relevant community correspondence will also be posted on this site. You can view the Jewish community COVID-19 update platform on or on our Facebook: South African Jewish Board of Deputies.

At the meeting the following was decided:

  1. National sectorial committees were established in order to better coordinate action plans that will focus on their unique issues, e.g. welfare, education.
  2. Representatives from the communal forum from last night will continue to meet weekly and more often when required.
  3. Communal guidelines were formulated together with the experts present and these are attached. Please note that this is rapidly developing situation and hence the guidelines will be constantly reviewed and adapted to take into account the changing circumstances.
  4. Representatives from Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban participated in the meeting to ensure that the recommendations have national relevance. The recommendations agreed upon are preventative measures to be implemented in order to minimise the spread of the Corona virus (COVID-19) within our community and the broader South Africa. We currently have a unique window of opportunity to contain the spread of this virus to prevent what we are now witnessing globally. Our community has a responsibility to be responsible citizens and to play our role in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

In attendance

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein
SA Jewish Board of Deputies (National, Gauteng, Cape, KZN and Pretoria)
SA Board of Jewish Education
Yeshiva College School
Torah Academy School
Shaarei Torah
Israel Centre
SA Zionist Federation
Union of Orthodox Synagogues
SA Rabbinical Association
SA Union for Progressive Judaism
Community Security Organisation
SA Union of Jewish Students


Jewish Community COVID-19 Guidelines;

  1. Education

One of the most important aspects of containing this pandemic is education around effective personal hygiene:

This should be widely communicated, amongst others through posters in community venues and also to promote these practices from the pulpits, podiums and in classrooms.

  • Proper handwashing including the use of soap and water, which is as effective as hand sanitizer and washing for at least 20 seconds, ensuring thorough washing on both sides of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails.
  • Avoiding handshaking, hugging and kissing.
  • Using correct sneezing and coughing etiquette preferably using a tissue and then disposing of the tissue in the garbage and washing hands, or if not possible into the crook of your arm.
  • Masks are not advisable, with the exception of healthcare workers and those who are infected.
  1. Self-Quarantine

People who may have come into contact with COVID-19 through travel or contact with a person who may be infected should `self-quarantine’. This entails isolating yourself at home, going out only if absolutely essential and if so not coming into contact with people.

It is especially important to employ self-quarantine processes if there is a child in the home.

  1. Basic precautionary measures
    • Flu vaccination

It is strongly advisable to be vaccinated against influenza. For community members who are unable to afford this or are not on a medical aid, the Chevra Kadisha will make vaccines available.

  • Food hygiene

This must be scrupulously adhered to, especially in communal settings.

  1. Local and International Travel

– There are no restrictions at this point on local travel.

  • It is recommended to avoid non-essential international travel, especially to countries with local transmission of Covid-19. This includes many countries in Asia, USA, Europe, Israel, Australia and the UK. This is in line with the global risk of the disease and the real possibility of importing it to our country.

5 Communal Gatherings

It is recommended to limit non-essential gatherings and to attempt to reduce numbers. At this stage shuls will operate, but it is crucial that all attendees adhere scrupulously to the above guidelines.