As people hurried to shul for Kol Nidrei, holding their machzorim, kittelach and tissues tucked under their arms, this year’s indispensable accessory was plainly visible; the face mask has made a comeback in Flatbush.
Despite the discomfort in breathing and davening when wearing a covering over the mouth and nose, the vast majority of the Flatbush community, realizing that the uptick in positivity rates in our area puts our neighborhood at risk of restrictions, showed overwhelming compliance with the government directive and conformed with the recommended safety guidelines. At the urging of the local Rabbanim and community leaders, the residents of Flatbush abided with their instructions and donned their facial coverings both while walking in the street and while in their respective shuls.
“Although it was difficult to lein while wearing my mask,” said Velvel, who served as a baal kriah in a minyan which gathered this year in a tent, “I felt that I should not cut corners, and just put a little more effort into raising my voice so it could be heard despite the muffling of the mask. In the end, the tzibbur told me they were able to hear me, and the people who had aliyos, many of them elderly and at a higher risk, appreciated the extra effort of keeping my mask on during the leining while they were in close proximity.”
Many shuls implemented a mandatory masking policy, and the result was a greater awareness of the severity of the situation and the need to display compliance with the health guidelines being promulgated by city and state officials.
In response to a question about the opening of schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio, in an interview on Monday with Errol Louis on Inside City Hall, made mention of the positive discussions he had with community leaders in the eight ZIP codes which had seen a recent uptick in positivity rates for COVID-19. “I really want to emphasize, we are getting a lot of support from community leaders, telling members of the community to wear masks [and] practice social distancing. We think the measures that are being taken, working with the community, are going to reverse this trend, and hopefully very quickly,” Mayor de Blasio stressed.
Rabbi Yitzchak Gottdiener, Executive Director of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, told Hamodia, “We applaud the mayor’s understanding that children can only be properly educated in the classroom, and we are trying to do whatever we can in order to keep our children in the classroom safely. On Friday, September 25, we received a communication from City Hall to ramp up our efforts to educate the community to promote compliance, and bring better cooperation between government and private schools. In response, we sent out thousands of emails explaining that although it may be uncomfortable for some, we must nevertheless work with City Hall, and wear face masks along with social distancing, in order to help lower the positivity rate and keep New York City safe.”