With Pesach starting Friday night and 43 confirmed measles cases in Southeast Michigan, many people are cautious about attending seders.
By Stacy Gittleman
Featured photo courtesy of the Warshay family
Shaina and Nathaniel Warshay of Oak Park never miss Shabbat and holiday services either at Young Israel of Oak Park, Eytz Chayim and Ohr Chadash. The first two synagogues have posted signs on their doors cautioning visitors that if they think they have the telltale signs of measles — a fever and a rash — or if they had been around those presenting these symptoms, they should not enter and instead call local health authorities.
With the holiday starting with the first seder Friday night and the number of confirmed measles cases at 43 (41 in Oakland County and one each in Wayne and Washtenaw counties), reactions mostly are cautionary about attending large seder gatherings to avoid possible exposure.
The Warshays are proud to say their four children, ranging in ages from 5 months to 4 years, have hardly ever missed shul. Each week, they teach their children the value of being part of the Jewish community and how to sit quietly and respectfully during services.
But the measles outbreak has changed their Shabbat routine of family togetherness. For the past few weeks, Shaina and Nathaniel take turns staying home with their infant so the others in the family can go to services. They won’t be bringing baby to shul for Passover either. Shaina also stayed home with her baby while Nathaniel took the rest of the kids to have fun at a matzah factory event.
“We are so upset about this and it has really affected our family because we no longer go to shul together,” Shaina said. “My husband is going to the early minyan Pesach morning and then he will come home to stay with the baby so I can go to shul with my older kids. We just cannot go together.”
Shaina said she has not taken the baby into One Stop Kosher Market in weeks, making Passover preparation particularly difficult. She said she was there with baby, unfortunately, the day Patient Zero had stopped by, exposing the unvaccinated baby to the highly-infectious disease. Luckily, she was able to get him the IGG shot given to infants too young to receive their first MMR vaccination.
Several people responded on social media that they have seder guests who now are not coming to join them because of the measles scare.
Huntington Woods native Abigail Kotsias, now of Jerusalem, sadly notes, “One of my cousins won’t come to the seder because she is afraid since we live in the area.”
Talya Jacobovitz of Oak Park reports, “My friend was supposed to come in but she isn’t because she’s worried about her immunity.”
Gil Sniderman of Troy cautions against complacency because “new cases still happening.”
Naomi Levine of Farmington Hills, however, is “not changing plans.”
Contributing Writer Louis Finkelman added to this report.