Rabbi Block has Covid, will miss opening days of school


BP Archive Photo by Neima Fax '20

QUARANTINE: Head of School Rabbi David Block, shown last spring, says he struggled to believe he might have Covid but got tested anyway.

By Juliet Wiener, Outside News Editor

Head of School Rabbi David Block has tested positive for Covid-19 and is quarantining at home, he announced in an email to the Shalhevet community at 7:44 p.m. yesterday evening.

In the email, Rabbi Block announced that he had tested positive earlier that day, at the beginning of the second week of meetings and orientations for the 2021-22 school year.

After feeling flu-like symptoms Monday night, he wrote, he isolated from others and was tested for Covid, staying in quarantine until the test results came in. 

He is still in quarantine now. In his email, he apologized to the Shalhevet community for having to miss the opening days, his first as head of Shalhevet. 

“I’m so sorry that I will not be with your children, our students, on their first day of school,” Rabbi Block said in the email sent out on Tuesday night.  He said was sorry for missing “being able to learn Torah with the seniors during their retreat; for not being able to sing with them during our schoolwide Seudah-Shlishit; for not being in-person for my actual classes; most importantly, for not being the source of warmth and support for all of our students that I strive to be. I was looking forward to it all tremendously.”

But Principal Mr. Daniel Weslow said Rabbi Block would be “in attendance” — presumably  virtually– at some events. 

“Rabbi Block is not letting this situation impact his presence during the opening week of school,” Mr. Weslow wrote in an email to the Boiling Point today. “Although he will not be physically present on campus, we have plans for him to be in attendance at a wide range of opening events.”

Rabbi Block’s Hebrew name is HaRav Alter Tzvi David Tuviah ben Devorah Yocheved. 

In his email Rabbi Block said that after receiving confirmation that he was positive for the virus, with the help of Shalhevet’s Covid-19 Medical task force he did extensive contact tracing, including reaching out directly to individuals that he might have exposed to Covid, he wrote.

I encourage you all to play it safe. If there’s any possibility that it could be COVID, isolate and get tested. Take one for the team.

— Rabbi David Block, Head of School

Among those who were exposed and contacted personally by Rabbi Block were members of the Editorial Board of the Boiling Point, which had a two-hour meeting in his office just hours before the head of school started feeling symptoms.

“It was a great meeting, everyone at the meeting was masked for the entirety of the meeting, and everyone at the meeting was fully vaccinated,” said Boiling Point Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Gamson, who attended. “I hope Rabbi Block gets well soon.” 

Rabbi Block also shared his initial struggle in accepting that he might have Covid when he started to feel sick, urging others to take even mild symptoms seriously in the current environment.

“It’s not always simple to admit to yourself what this might be,” he wrote. “While I knew what I had to do, a part of me said to myself: These are just typical symptoms of a cold, or the flu, or a rough 24-hour bug… it happens all the time! It’s not COVID.” 

Still, he got tested as a precaution, which turned out to be very necessary, and encourages the Shalhevet community to do the same when they or someone in their family feels ill. 

“I encourage you all to play it safe,” Rabbi Block wrote. “If there’s any possibility that it could be COVID, isolate and get tested. Take one for the team.” 

Meanwhile, Mr. Weslow said the first week of school would go according to plan — with Rabbi Block’s support.

“Rabbi Block is deeply committed to ensuring that the first week of school remains excellent and embodies the values of Shalhevet,” Mr. Weslow wrote in his email. “We are grateful for our faculty and staff who are working tirelessly to make this opening week special, thrilled to have students on campus, and appreciate Rabbi Block’s unwavering commitment to our student body to ensure the RUACH is next level to start the 2021-2022 school year.”

Correction: In an earlier edition of this post, Rabbi Block’s Hebrew first name was misstated.  It is Alter, not Elta’ar.