Coronavirus: Safety Guidelines Issued for Jewish Festivals

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Ram-mouth blowing is a key feature of Rosh Hashana – but extra caution needs to be taken this year

The government has issued very detailed instructions and what to avoid for the UK Jewish community as it celebrates its most important holidays this year.

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot usually include synagogues and large family gatherings.

This year, synagogues will have to ensure social distancing and avoid mass prayer shawls and books.

The person blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) to Rosh Hashana must be two meters away from other worshipers.

As of Friday, the three-week period known as Days of Awe is the central feature of the Jewish religious year, but many of its traditions will be impossible this year.

Long checklist It explains that synagogues can be used as long as the COVID-19 safety measures are in place.

But the group prayer books and prayer shawls, usually scattered around the synagogue, should be removed, with worshipers instructed to bring their own prayer books.

Microphones should be used wherever possible, although these are usually not acceptable in Orthodox synagogues.

Masks are recommended, and people should not mix in groups of more than six, in line with new restrictions on social gatherings.

The directive recognizes that the “rule of six” will have a special effect on the tradition of hospitality around the throne – the Feast of Tabernacles, which marks the end of the harvest and commemorates the Exodus from Egypt.

The festival runs from October 2 to October 9 this year, and usually includes the construction of the “sikka”, a small shelter that many Jews built in their gardens for food during the eight-day Sukkot Festival.

Usually guests would be invited and crammed indoors, but now the limit is six – unless the social bubble is even bigger.

Food or cutlery, as well as social gatherings, are shared at the collective railroad and “track crawl” throughout the community.

The main feature of the Jewish New Year – the Jewish New Year – is the trumpet blowing, a musical instrument made from a ram’s horn that may pose a risk of virus spreading through droplets.

To reduce the risk, the directive states that the chofar blower should be at least two meters away from anyone else, and should not be directed toward anyone.

There are also detailed instructions for a celebration known as Tashlich, where New Year’s devotees go to a moving body of water like a river and metaphorically cast their sins.

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In addition to the rule of six and social distance, the guidelines state that items used during the celebration, such as prayer books or breadcrumbs that some worshipers throw on the water, should not be shared.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales has been appointed patron of a Jewish youth organization celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Neil Martin, CEO of the JLGB (Jewish Boys and Girls Brigade), said it was an “absolute honor” and praised the prince as a “great believer in youth power.”

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