A decision was made to re-open shuls in Israel at a meeting of senior officials of the National Security Council (NSC), the Health Ministry and Interior Ministry on Sunday.
The decision still needs to be approved by a Knesset vote.
The shuls will be re-opened according to an outline proposed by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, in which empty seats are maintained between participants with each shul having a set group of participants [ruling out shteiblach].
Mispallelim will not be allowed to use siddurim or other sifrei kodesh belonging to the shul and will be required to bring their own siddurim from home. The ministry is also recommending that only set members of each shul be in contact with the Sifrei Torah.
Shuls will be required to appoint “coronavirus gabbaim” who will be responsible for ensuring shuls are adhering to coronavirus regulations, including the wearing of face masks.
STAY UPDATED WITH BREAKING UPDATES FROM YWN VIA WHATSAPP – SIGN UP NOW Just click on this link, and you will be placed into a group.
The shuls will be required to be thoroughly cleaned every evening and have a selection of disinfectants in the shul for mispallelim.
The decision will also apply to “red zones” – cities and neighborhoods with high infection rates [although it should be noted that in Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh, there were no new cases reported on Sunday and only one new case in Jerusalem].
The government is currently waiting for a legal opinion that will allow them to re-open shuls but leave the mosques closed during Ramadan, a dilemma which may delay the re-opening of shuls until the end of the week. [Ramadan ends in the evening of May 23 which falls out on Shabbos].
Minyanim that form at random times such as in shteibelach will continue to be allowed only in open areas with up to 50 participants.
The Health Ministry emphasized that those at high-risk due to underlying health conditions should not attend shul.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)