After 3 months, Chabad Brooklyn headquarters reopens to unmasked crowds

Worshipers celebrate reopening with dancing, the same way they parted from 770 Eastern Parkway synagogue when it closed due to coronavirus restrictions

Worshipers dance at the Chabad synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, June 22, 2020. (Screenshot from video via JTA)
Worshipers dance at the Chabad synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, June 22, 2020. (Screenshot from video via JTA)

JTA – It closed with dancing and it reopened with dancing.

The main Chabad synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn reopened to a large crowd Monday, more than three months after it shut its doors amid mounting restrictions meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

The raucous service was documented in a video posted to Instagram by COLlive, a local Orthodox news site in Crown Heights. No one in the video, which shows dozens of men singing and dancing, appeared to be wearing a face mask and most did not appear to be maintaining social distancing.

The reopening is the latest evidence that some parts of New York City’s Orthodox community have largely returned to normalcy after three months of lockdown, despite the fact that the city only began its second phase of reopening Monday and social distancing and mask wearing are still recommended.

The synagogue, located at the former home of the late leader of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, waited until much of the city had shut down before closing its doors, for the first time ever, late on March 17.

The decision to close the synagogue, which is known for hosting dozens of services and hundreds of visitors each day, came days after many synagogues in New York City canceled their Shabbat services. After rabbis in the community ordered the building and other synagogues closed, men stayed at 770 and danced late into the night.

In keeping with New York’s rules for houses of worship, the building reopened last month to a service of 10 men, the number needed to form a prayer quorum called a minyan, which is necessary to recite certain prayers.

Monday’s service was the first at the building to make possible some of the activities that typically characterize prayer at 770. Under the newly widened restrictions, houses of worship may now admit up to a quarter of the people they are designed to hold — 250 for 770 Eastern Parkway, according to COLlive. (Governor Andrew Cuomo accelerated the pace by which houses of worship could open amid pressure from religious New Yorkers, including Orthodox Jews, and left it up to each one to create its own mask and distancing rules.)

New York City’s new rules coincided with Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of a new month on the Jewish calendar, a day that is marked with special prayers and in some synagogues, as at 770, dancing.

Most Popular
read more: