Back to shul…but read the rules.

May 17, 2020 by Henry Benjamin
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Shuls in NSW will reopen on Shavout with attendance restricted to ten worshippers and two officials comprising a singe minyan.

This move negotiated by the Sydney Beth Din with the government will mean two women can attend shul services.

Following the festival on May 29 and 30,  synagogues will open on Shabbat morning only each week.

The Sydney Beth Din has put a one hour limit on the service suggesting the reading of the Torah and Musaph as the basis for the prayers.

Only people between 13 and 69 may attend excluding anyone who has a death-threatening condition such as diabetes or cardiovascular or immuno-compromised diseases.

No-one can attend with a cold or flu or anyone who has within their household someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Facemasks are essential and must be provided by the congregant.

No-one will be allowed to leave his seat during the service not even to kiss the Torah.

A minyan will not be allowed in a private home. If a synagogue has three separate areas including outside (subject to public compliance) which can accommodate the four metre rule then one shul can hold up to the three minyanim.

Following a service, there can be no kiddush and no consumption of food.

How to become a member of a minyan:

During the week preceding Shabbas, a questionnaire has to be completed up and returned to whoever is in charge of the services at your synagogue.

Applicants will be advised if they can attend with priority being given to those mourners and those with Yizchor.

The Sydney Beth Din’s goal is that as a result of minyanim there be no infection at all.

In a statement, the SBD said: “We cannot sufficiently press home the following point. There is absolutely no Halachic allowance for engaging in communal prayer at the expense of a participant contracting or spreading a potentially life-threatening illness such as COVID-19.

We believe that the success of these guidelines in protecting our community will be only if we all abide by them uniformly. If any group or Synagogue, even with the best of intentions, departs from this approach, we believe it may lead to an attitude of “each one can do as he sees fit” without any controls. Our community has seen minyanim selfishly organised by persons who ignored both Halachic and civil law and a lack of unity only invites such abhorrent behaviour.”

The Sydney Beth Din has thanked to The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, JEMP and The Executive Council of Australian Jewry for their input.

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