Thursday: back to shule

June 1, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Government has relaxed restrictions on Synagogues allowing up to 50 people plus clergy per service.

The Sydney Beth Din is following Government guidelines but is still advocating social distancing and for anyone over 69 refused admission.

In a statement, the SBD states: “Considering this significant change in estimation of risk by the government, and expiry of the control period without any meaningful increase in infections, we believe it is time for Synagogues to re-open and one rule for the entire community is no longer necessary or desirable. However bearing in mind that government does not necessarily take into account the unique nature of our community and its inherent risks, each community should be guided by their own Rabbi and doctors in relation to risk management moving forward.

We recommend each synagogue together with their Rabbi, and the medical practitioners they choose to advise them, carefully assess the risk for their own Synagogue and congregants bearing in mind the following principles:

1. There is no obligation for communal prayer when there are health concerns

2. Indeed when there is a tangible risk communal prayer is forbidden

3. Risk assessment should be based on the opinion of at least two medical practitioners.

According to Jewish Law, if two consider there to be a risk, even if they are in the minority, their view must be followed.

All government guidelines and recommendations must be observed including:

1. Only 50 people plus clergy are allowed on one premises at any given time.

2. Strict adherence to social distancing using the 4m2 rule and 1.5 m between people.

3. Pre-screening ensuring health of congregant.

4. A ledger of all attendees must be kept weekdays or Shabbat (with of course no writing on

Shabbat). The government expects these records to be available for contact tracing.

5. No singing during services except by Chazan who shall be at least three metres from the rest

of the Congregation

6. No eating or Kiddushim.

7. No walking around during davening

8. Including in the pre-screening is whether the congregant has a temperature, but there

should be no temperature taking with a handheld infrared device on Shabbat.

9. Aliyot and Kriah in accordance with Halachic guidelines available from the Beth Din.

The government considers any person over the age of 70 and any person with a co-morbidity over the age of 50 at high risk and it is strongly recommended they be encouraged not to attend. If they do attend this should be cleared by the medical practitioners advising the shule.

The Sydney Beth Din says the wearing of masks and the length of the service is up to the individual congregation and their medical advisors.

The SBD has stressed it the return to synagogues is approved provided it becomes clear there was no growth in infections in our community as a result of events last week.

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