France: Synagogues to open this Shabbat

After being shuttered for months, French synagogues to reopen this Saturday for morning prayers - but number of worshipers capped at 30.

Yoni Kempinski ,

הרב משה לוין מסייר בשטח
הרב משה לוין מסייר בשטח
ועידת רבני אירופה

The French government has moved to allow synagogues across the country to reopen for the first time in months; albeit with heavy restrictions.

The synagogues will be allowed to reopen Saturday morning, with restrictions imposed on their operation, including a limit of 30 people per prayer quorum.

The arrangement was made in cooperation with the Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Haim Korsia, and Yoel Margi Vice President of the Conference of European Rabbis and President of the Consistory of France.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that in light of the decline in the coronavirus infection rate, the government would plan a three-stage lockdown exit strategy, ending December 15th.

Rabbi Korisa’s aide, Rabbi Moshe Levin, a rabbi for the French Gendarmerie, said that “the gesture by French authorities to open up synagogues on the Sabbath comes against the backdrop of plans to reopen all churches next Sunday ahead of the upcoming Christian holidays.”

“That would explain why they want to open the synagogues only starting Saturday morning, rather than Friday evening on the eve of the Sabbath.”

Under the agreement reached for the reopening of synagogues, the following rules have been adopted:

-No more than 30 worshippers will be allowed in a prayer service at any given time.

-All worshippers must keep their masks on during the prayer services, and windows must be left open.

-No children under the age of 11 will be allowed in synagogue.

-It is recommended that a doctor be on hand at all times.

-There must be two empty seats between worshippers.

-Worshippers must sign up before prayers.

-If more than 30 worshippers are present, the prayer groups must be split into two.

-The elderly and people with serious preexisting medical conditions may not attend prayer services.

-Kiddush services and meals may not be held in the synagogues.