Belgian court to rule on opening of synagogues

Court said earlier that the closure of places of worship was disproportionate and ordered the government to submit response by Sunday.

Ben Shaul ,

Belgium
Belgium
iStock

The Supreme Administrative Court of Belgium is expected to deliver on Sunday its ruling on an appeal against the closure of synagogues.

Earlier, in response to the petition filed by Jewish communities, the court ruled that the closure of places of worship due to the spread of the coronavirus was disproportionate and contrary to the principles of religious freedom and ordered the government to submit their response by Sunday.

In the event that the government does not make a decision on the matter, the judges of the Supreme Administrative Court will issue a unilateral decision that will likely allow for the opening of synagogues.

The petition was filed by Jewish communities in Antwerp along with petitioners from other religions. The petitioners seek to exclude synagogues for prayers as well as Torah study in synagogues and batei midrash, just like other places defined by the government as essential such as gyms and other places that were allowed to remain open.

The petition also asked that weddings be permitted to be held with the participation of a small crowd.

The judges agreed with the petitioners that closing places of worship in this way infringed on religious freedom, and ordered the government to amend the regulations to allow them to reopen safely according to doctors' guidelines to prevent further outbreak of the virus.

Belgium’s Justice Minister, Vincent Van Quickenborne, said in response to the decision that he would "consult with the various faith and religion communities in our country."

As part of the fight against the spread of coronavirus, the Belgian government imposed a ban on gatherings of more than four people, which officially prevented the holding of minyanim, as well as a ban on holding weddings that affected many families in the haredi community.



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