Changes to synagogue worshiper limits to be proposed by next week

Ultra-Orthodox MKs and the ultra-Orthodox community at large has bristled at the tight restriction of just 10 worshipers allowed in a synagogue, regardless of its size.

THE GLOWING Yismach Moshe Synagogue at night, a major religious center of Ashdod’s Moroccan Jewry. (photo credit: JACOB SOLOMON)
THE GLOWING Yismach Moshe Synagogue at night, a major religious center of Ashdod’s Moroccan Jewry.
(photo credit: JACOB SOLOMON)
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, coronavirus project manager Prof. Roni Gamzu and Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Yakov Asher (United Torah Judaism) held discussions on Sunday about changing the restrictions on the number of worshipers allowed in synagogues.
No official announcement was released, but there was speculation the restrictions might be eased, possibly for areas with low levels of infection.

Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) MKs and their community have criticized the limit of 10 worshipers allowed in a synagogue, regardless of size. When compared with lighter restrictions for restaurants, gyms and other indoor establishments, they have complained of discrimination.
Protesters at a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington Sunday morning demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resign over corruption charges.
The international protests against Netanyahu, which were first reported in The Jerusalem Post, have spread from San Francisco to England, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and across the United States.
The current limit on worshipers in prayer services was arbitrary, Chief Rabbi David Lau said last month. It was illogical that the same number of worshipers be permitted in both very small and very large synagogues, he said.
Edelstein and Gamzu had promised that the regulations for synagogues would be changed by the beginning of next week following discussions held last week among the relevant officials, a spokesman for Asher said Sunday.
Earlier on Sunday, Asher had threatened that his committee “would not hesitate to annul changes that are illogical and unjust.”
“There shouldn’t be discrimination against synagogues for no reason – that synagogues should be different from everything else with no reason,” his spokesman said.
Last week, Health Ministry deputy director-general Itamar Grotto told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee the government was examining options to ease restrictions in cities with low rates of infection, according to the proposed “traffic light” system.
Edelstein said haredi population centers have a high rate of infection. He expressed concern that infections could spike if restrictions are eased too much ahead of the High Holy Days.


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