The leaders of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue have made big plans for this year’s Jewish High Holy Days. After celebrating through a live stream at a pandemic last fall, they rented Radio City Music Hall for a spectacular festival.
However, the spread of delta variants has overturned those plans. It still uses a music hall with 5,500 seats, but its capacity is only 30%. And everyone needs to show evidence of vaccination and wear a mask.
Angela W. Buchdar, a senior synagogue rabbi, said: “This year I certainly expected to meet in person for this year’s big holiday until early July.”
Many congregations plan to celebrate High Holy Days, one of the most important dates in the Jewish calendar, a few months in advance. However, to address the recent surge in coronavirus cases, the entire New York region, where Jews are most concentrated outside Israel, and the safety concerns they believed were rendered meaningless by the arrival of vaccines. Synagogues were driven all over the country.
The big holiday begins on Monday night in Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year of 5782. Next week will end with Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, the most sacred day in Judaism.
While many plan face-to-face services, the rules of the pandemic era include restrictions on attendance, mandatory vaccines and / or masks, and services in outdoor spaces such as parks and rooftops. It is.
“We all the priests and secretary general in New York are talking to each other,” said Rabbi Buchdar. “No one wants to feel like outliers.”
The pandemic had a profound impact on the Jewish community in New York. It arrived in the area on another holiday, the eve of Purim, and has since suffered great sacrifices among the ultra-Orthodox Jews.
After the wave of the first incident last year, direct meetings at the place of worship were banned by health authorities and subsequently strictly regulated to prevent religious services from turning into superspreading events.
In November, the Supreme Court overturned restrictions on the place of worship of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and since then neither the city nor the state has moved to impose new restrictions. Instead, each location was allowed to set its own rules.
As more and more people are vaccinated, restrictions have been slowly relaxed over the past few months. However, local authorities have begun demanding vaccination certification for indoor activities such as eating indoors and getting to gyms and museums, but no similar obligations have been introduced for religious services. Hmm.
Only a small congregation of Jews in New York has decided to hold an online-only event for a major holiday this year. Among them is the Manhattan Congregation Bait Sim Chattora, which claims to be the largest LGBT synagogue in the world.
Community leaders said that pandemic-related precautions are not only about public health guidance, but also about protecting the life of the Jewish people, Pikuaha Nefesh, the basic belief of the Jewish religion itself. He says he is inspired by the idea that it is the most important religious value.
“In my opinion, masks are more important than this year’s prayer book,” said Jeffrey Kahn, secretary-general of Romem, a popular synagogue with branches in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He said synagogue officials bought 1,000 masks for just under $ 1 each and distributed them to worshipers who could arrive without masks.
“Rabbi may not like me to say that, but he will probably agree with me at the end of the day,” he said. “Protection of life is always more important than any other Jewish commandment or ritual.”
Romem’s leadership discussed for days what to do about High Holy Days, Khan said. In the end, they decided to hold holiday services in three places. One is in a tent outside the Brooklyn Ethical and Cultural Association. The other is an adult-only indoor service on the Upper West Side of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Family service for children under the age of 12 on the rooftop of the Romem building on West 105th Street. (People under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination.)
The congregation also decided to require all adult participants to be vaccinated, despite what Mr. Khan called a “loud and unimportant group” of the congregation against the vaccine. He refused to elaborate on their opposition to the vaccine, but said that much of the community was attracted to natural medicine and skeptical of pharmaceutical companies.
“We haven’t judged and commented. That doesn’t matter,” Khan said. “It doesn’t matter why someone isn’t vaccinated, not because we don’t care. It’s important that they aren’t vaccinated and that they are themselves or others. It is a potential impact on. “
Understand Vaccine and Mask Obligations in the United States
- Vaccine rules.. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval of Pfizer BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people over the age of 16 paving the way for increased obligations in both the public and private sectors. rice field. Private companies are increasingly requiring employees to vaccinate. Such obligations are legally permitted and are upheld in court opposition.
- Mask rule.. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July masked indoor public places in areas where outbreaks are occurring, which is the opposite of the guidance provided in May by all Americans, regardless of vaccination status. It was recommended to wear. Find out where the CDC guidance applies and where the state has developed its own mask policy. In some states, the mask dispute is controversial, and some local leaders oppose the state’s ban.
- University. More than 400 universities require students to be vaccinated with Covid-19. Almost all are in the states that voted for President Biden.
- school.. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine obligations to their education staff. According to a survey released in August, many American parents with school-age children oppose the vaccines required for their students, but mask obligations for students, teachers, and staff who do not have shots. Was in favor of.
- Hospitals and medical centers.. Many hospitals and major healthcare systems require employees to be vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine. This is due to the increased number of cases caused by the Delta variant and the low stubborn vaccination rate in the community, even within employees.
- New York City.. Indoor meals, gymnasiums, performances and other indoor situations require proof of vaccination for workers and customers, but enforcement will not begin until September 13. Teachers and other educational workers in the city’s vast school system must be vaccinated with at least one vaccine. Administered by September 27, without weekly test options. Municipal hospital workers also need to be vaccinated or have weekly tests. Employees in New York have similar rules.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon has announced that it will mandate coronavirus vaccination of 1.3 million active troops in the country by mid-September. President Biden has announced that all private federal personnel must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or subject to regular inspections, social distances, mask requirements, and most travel restrictions.
Rabbi Buchdahl said he believes that the overwhelming majority of worshipers in the central synagogue are fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, all participants need to be vaccinated and masked.
Apart from the service at Radio City Music Hall, the synagogue will also offer a service at the Moorish Resurrection Sanctuary in Midtown. You will need a mask and vaccine there, and attendance will be restricted …