Chief rabbis ban prayer in synagogues over coronavirus crisis

Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau said that prayer services with a maximum of ten men spaced two meters apart could still be held.

Jewish men wearing prayer shawls perform morning prayers in a courtyard of a synagogue in Jerusalem (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jewish men wearing prayer shawls perform morning prayers in a courtyard of a synagogue in Jerusalem
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In light of the increasing challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef issued a statement on Wednesday calling on the public not to pray in synagogues due to the danger of spreading the disease.
The two chief rabbis said, however, that prayer services with a minimal minyan, a prayer quorum of 10 men, could still be held outdoors, as long as they are spaced two meters apart.
The decision comes following new regulations that have been put in place by the government further limiting movement outside of places of residence.
On Tuesday, data was released showing that of Israelis who contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus in Israel, 24% were infected while attending synagogue.
Rabbinates and rabbinical associations in the UK, Switzerland, the US and many other countries gave such instructions as much as two weeks ago, but the chief rabbis have resisted such calls until now.
Yosef and Lau said that people should try if possible to pray outdoors, close to a synagogue, and that the Torah scroll can be removed from a synagogue for use in services when necessary.
“We ask everyone to continue to petition and pray for all humankind and for God to soon send a cure and remedy to all who need it, and to request that soon ‘a crown will be given unto God’ and that ‘all may be sanctified by You,’” concluded the chief rabbis.
“Corona” is the Latin word for “crown”; coronaviruses are so called because they have crown-like protrusions surrounding them.


Tags prayer