Houses of worship eager to reopen – The Daily Freeman

Posted By on May 23, 2020

KINGSTON, N.Y. Rabbi Yitzhak Hecht hopes to be able to hold in-person worship services at Congregation Agudas Achim on Lucas Avenue in time for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot, but he said a final decision won't be made until he's had the opportunity to consult with Ulster County leaders and medical professionals.

Hecht is pleased the state has cleared the way for his synagogue and other houses of worship across the state to begin holding services again as thecoronaviruspandemic eases.

"We're very excited about it," he said. "We're going to reopen, we just don't know when or how.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced guidelines under which churches and synagogues can begin to reopen their doors. Among them is that now more than 10 people attend a service at one time. In Judaism, a quorum of 10 adults (in Orthodox synagogues, all 10 must be men), known as a minyan, is required for communal worship.

Hecht said because the limit significantly restricts the number of people who can attend services, his congregation, also known as Chabad of Ulster County, is looking at whether it will hold one service or multiple services and whether services will be held indoors or outdoors.

"A lot of congregants are plotzing to get back to service," he said, using the Yiddish expression for being overcome with emotion.

Shavuot, the Jewish celebration of God giving the laws to Moses and the Jews at Mount Sinai, is celebrated this year from sundown on May 28 until nightfall on May 30.

The Archdiocese of New York, meanwhile, has unveiled a five-point plan for a phased reopening of Catholic churches, but the immediate resumption of Mass is not included.

The plan for the archdiocese, which comprises New York City as well as surrounding counties including Ulster and Dutchess begins with the resumption of private prayer and confessions, followed by the celebration of baptisms and marriages with attendance limited to 10 people, according to a summary.

Later phases envision the distribution of weekday Communion outside of Mass, followed by limited daily and funeral Masses.

The plans for local churches in other denominations of Christianity was not immediately clear. Phone messages left Thursday and Friday with numerous church offices in Ulster County were not returned.

It is also unclear how, of if, President Donald Trump's declaration Friday that churches are "essential services" will impact the decisions of local religious leaders.

Today Im identifying houses of worship churches, synagogues and mosques as essential places that provide essential services, Trump said during a press conference at the White House, according to the Associated Press.

Trump said if governors dont abide by his request, he will override them, though its unclear what authority he has to do so.

For local stories about the coronavirus, go tobit.ly/DFCOVID19. For live updates, visitbit.ly/DFcovid19live.

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Houses of worship eager to reopen - The Daily Freeman

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