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Tel Aviv synagogues get go-ahead to hold High Holiday services in public spaces

Mayor Ron Huldai calls right to prayer ‘fundamental,’ offers logistical assistance to city’s hundreds of synagogues

A man blows a shofar beachside in Tel Aviv on Rosh Hashanah, September 21, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)
A man blows a shofar beachside in Tel Aviv on Rosh Hashanah, September 21, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)

Tel Aviv is trying to make sure that worshipers can attend High Holiday services during the pandemic.

The Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality said it would allow synagogues to extend into public spaces as part of its effort to facilitate public prayer services hampered by restrictions on public gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Its announcement Sunday said the city also would offer logistical assistance, including access to electricity, providing shade, and distributing chairs for worshipers, as well as pre-holiday shofar-blowing courses.

There are 450 synagogues located within the borders of the municipality, with 150 in municipal buildings.

“The right to prayer and religious gatherings is fundamental, and everything will be done in order to permit tens of thousands of worshipers to carry out the holiday commandments – even under the health restrictions,” Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement.

The government has yet to unveil its framework on health regulations over the holidays, with the coronavirus czar hinting at the possibility of sweeping restrictions to prevent mass gatherings in synagogues over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Israel has seen over 105,000 virus cases, 83,000 of whom have recovered, since the start of the pandemic, and 847 deaths.

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