Chief rabbi urges PM to order immediate reopening of synagogues

Chief Rabbi David Lau is urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order the immediate reopening of synagogues, arguing against the continued closure as other areas of public life gradually return to normal.

Researchers has shown that during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel, some 25 percent of the infections occurred in synagogues. Synagogues were shuttered in late March.

But as the number of new daily cases has gone down to fewer than 30 nationwide, and as beaches, restaurants and pubs were set to reopen by next week and even event halls got a mid-June scheduled opening date, there has been no word from the government about resuming synagogue services.

“The return to normal of shopping centers, restaurants etc. and the lack of answers on synagogues, is baffling to many,” Lau says in a letter sent to Netanyahu.

“Praying with the community takes an important part of Jewish life,” he writes. “During the closure I issued lenient halachic instructions for ways to hold public prayers under the circumstances. The public acted responsibly and acted according to the guidelines.

“From reactions I am receiving, I feel them and understand how much this hurts for them,” he continues, adding that worshipers aren’t heard because they don’t have a labor union representing their interests.

— Michael Bachner

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