World Organization of Orthodox Synagogues outlines plan for winter prayers

Even after synagogues reopen, it remains preferable to pray outdoors.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Outdoor prayer quorom
Outdoor prayer quorom
Rechelim council

The World Organization of Orthodox Synagogues has called on congregations and synagogue sextons to draw up plans for communal prayer during the coming winter, in light of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

Even if the government does approve the reopening of synagogues in the next few weeks, it is expected that outdoor communal prayer will continue in some form or other regardless, for the benefit of those who are in a high-risk category as well as those who prefer to minimize their chances of exposure to the disease.

The outline developed by the Organization is as follows:

  • Even if permission is granted for holding prayers indoors, it is advisable to continue praying in an outdoor setting, which is considered safer.
  • People in high-risk groups should avoid praying in indoor areas and should seek out a place to pray outdoors instead.
  • Some kind of overhead protection from the elements should be prepared in open areas, large enough to accommodate the permitted number of participants while observing social distancing.
  • Areas where especially cold weather and/or strong winds are expected may “enclose” these protected outdoor areas by putting up (just) one wall in order to minimize the discomfort of holding prayers under such conditions.
  • The regulations governing social distancing, hygiene, and wearing of face masks should be meticulously adhered to, and anyone who feels unwell should not pray in a quorum at all.
  • When prayers are once again permitted to be held in synagogues, care should be taken that the buildings are well ventilated, by keeping doors and windows open. If heating is required, it is preferable to use heat sources other than air conditioning.
  • If a “capsule” system is approved for synagogues, it is still preferable to hold several separate prayer quoroms, one after the other (which may conduct the prayers more quickly than usual) rather than to have a larger number of people praying at one time [even if they are divided by partitions].
  • Each synagogue should appoint a person to oversee adherence to the guidelines imposed by the Health Ministry.