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New York may allow limited religious services by Shavuot, says Cuomo

Governor says guidance will be released this week and services would be limited in size, require social distancing

A Hasidic man prays on his balcony in a Brooklyn neighborhood on April 25, 2020 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)
A Hasidic man prays on his balcony in a Brooklyn neighborhood on April 25, 2020 in New York City (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)

JTA — Jews in New York State may be able to gather legally for small-scale religious services during the next holiday, Shavuot.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his daily coronavirus briefing Sunday that his office planned to release guidance early this week about what New Yorkers can do over Memorial Day weekend and beyond.

Shavuot, which is traditionally celebrated with all-night study, begins three days later on May 28.

“Can we find a way to do a ceremony — a religious ceremony, or a ceremony that honors Memorial Day? I think we can,” Cuomo said, responding to a question specifically about observance outside of New York City.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo briefs the media during a coronavirus news conference at his office in New York City, May 9, 2020. (John Roca/New York Post via AP, Pool)

He said services would be limited in size and would require social distancing to be practiced.

Religious services have been barred since mid-March, when Cuomo issued an executive order prohibiting gatherings of any size in a bid to slow the coronavirus’ spread. Recently, as the number of new cases have slowed, rabbis on Long Island have been openly sparring over whether to permit in-person prayer services.

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