Wait to resume services, then proceed carefully, Orthodox Jews are told – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on May 17, 2020

He was also previewing a set of formal guidelines that the organization he helps lead, the Orthodox Union, would release just a day later.

The issuance of this guidance does NOT imply that any reopening should be done at this point, the guide says in bold on its first page. Later, it says about the possible resumption of informal, backyard services, Care must be taken to ensure that this not become a free-for-all.

The guide instructs synagogues to wait at least two weeks after services are legally possible to hold them, to make sure that coronavirus cases do not rise as restrictions are relaxed. The guide also spells out that people who are unwell or at high risk for coronavirus complications should not attend services even then. And it emphasizes that healthy, young people who are fearful of contracting the virus at synagogue should be considered exempt from obligations related to communal prayer.

When services do resume, according to the guide, congregants should wear masks, sit far apart and coordinate their attendance so spaces do not become crowded. This will be a fundamental and difficult shift for many individuals and communities, the guide says.

Even once communal prayer is reestablished, the guide says, Jews should resist the urge to synagogue-hop, or pray with different groups of people at different times, to minimize each persons total number of contacts.

Orthodox communities must make and follow their own guidance, Agudath Israels document says, because observant Jews communal lifestyles dont fit neatly into the frameworks that most states are using to guide reopening decisions.

Governmental regulations were not designed to address the realities of someone davening at a bustling shul with multiple minyanim daily; attending kiddushim; large families having a Shabbos meal together; children from multiple families playing together perhaps all on a single day! the guide reads.

It continues in bold: An abrupt return to all of this, while tempting, risks our communities suffering reversals of whatever gains were achieved during the difficult months of quarantine endured.

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Wait to resume services, then proceed carefully, Orthodox Jews are told - The Jerusalem Post

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