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Dear Members & Community,

As you are all aware, the situation and advice we are receiving regarding COVID-19 is changing rapidly. With the continued spread of the virus in Toronto, we have decided to close the Beth Tikvah Synagogue building as of 1 pm today (March 16) until further notice. All staff will be working remotely from home. We can be reached through email and/or calling the Synagogue office. If you leave a voicemail message on a  staff extension, an email will be sent to the staff person letting them know they have  a voicemail message.  

Doris Alter, Executive Director,
Rick Firth, Interim Rabbi's Assistant, Marketing and Publications Coordinator,
Sigal Tuch, Program Director,
Ellie Reinblatt, Youth & Young Families Coordinator, 
Gayle Kertzman, Life Cycle Events Coordinator,
Renee Cammy, Membership, Accounting Support Coordinator,
Ainash Yessenkova, Controller,
Danny Tiano, Operations Supervisor,

Rabbi Jarrod Grover, Senior Rabbi,
Rabbi Louis Sachs, Associate Rabbi, 
Hazzan Tibor
Irv Kirshenblat, Ritual Director,
Douglas Millstone, President, 

Wishing everyone of us good health. Do not hesitate to call us, we are here to help. If you wish to volunteer by calling members, please let me know. Thank you.

The religious, administrative, and lay leadership of Beth Tikvah has been in a state of heightened concern since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The precautionary measures we will take as a community to protect ourselves from this outbreak will evolve as we consult with experts. This short letter will give you a sense of where things stand now, and how Jewish values frame this matter.

Firstly, all places of gathering have an obligation at this time to slow the spread of this outbreak so that the healthcare system can keep up with increased demand. For us, that means the frequency of our gatherings should be reduced as much as possible. Thus, effective tomorrow, March 13th, all in-person Beth Tikvah events, meetings, worship services and programs are canceled, and will remain canceled for the foreseeable future. We are going to try and move many of these events to an online/virtual space, and we will let you know as we are able to do so. The office will take care of refunds for those who have pre-paid for programs.

Communal prayer, while important, is not halakhically mandated (OH 90:9). The Shulhan Arukh rules that a person should make an effort to pray in a minyan, but may pray alone if there are “compelling circumstances.” Pikuah nefesh, saving a life, is a compelling circumstance. In our tradition it is permitted to refrain from communal prayer to protect oneself from great risk to one’s health.

Furthermore, the Rema writes:
וכן יזהר מכל דברים המביאים לידי סכנה כי סכנתא חמירא מאיסורא ויש לחוש יותר לספק סכנה מלספק איסור
Similarly, one should be careful of all things that cause danger, because danger is stricter than transgressions, and one should be more careful with an uncertain danger than with an uncertain transgression. (YD 116:5)

For anyone who needs to say kaddish, or has a yahrzeit, the clergy is willing to ensure that someone will say the appropriate prayers for your loved one at synagogue; all you have to do is contact them to make them aware. Additionally, while we as of yet do not have live-streaming available, we are happy to suggest other sources for those who wish to view synagogue services through the Internet.

Medical professionals have advised the clergy to take extra personal precautions because of the role they play in the community. At this time, the clergy are avoiding visiting people in the hospital or retirement homes, and at shivas. They are still available by phone or e-mail. When it comes to larger gatherings, please keep in mind our responsibilities towards each other. Simha celebrations should be abbreviated and attendance limited. For those, G-d forbid, who are dealing with a death, all funerals should be conducted at the graveside, and shiva observance private.

With these measures, we are hoping to seriously curb the impact and the spread of this illness. We deeply appreciate your help and patience as we continue to assess. May the Holy One give us the wisdom to respond appropriately to this disease and heal those who have been affected.
Rabbi Jarrod R. Grover, Senior Rabbi
Doris Alter, Executive Director
Doug Millstone, President


Kaddish & Mourners Prayer

Please click HERE to download the prayer for mourning when a minyan can not gather.


For the most up to date information please visit the following links:

Health Canada click HERE
Canadian Public Health Association click HERE
Toronto Public Health click HERE

If you have additional concerns regarding COVID-19, please contact Toronto Public Health at 416.338.7600,
Monday to Friday from 8.30 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. and on weekends from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.,
or visit their website at  

Sat, 24 October 2020 6 H̱eshvan 5781