L’shanah tovah, Dopers! Pleasepleaseplease let next year at this time find us over the hump, COVID-wise-speaking!
I read an article yesterday about this dilemma in the Washington Post:
…Most Orthodox congregations, however, because our understanding of religious law prohibits the use of electronics on the Sabbath and holidays, will be holding significantly shortened indoor and outdoor services, with both masks and social distancing strictly enforced. Some Conservative congregations will be doing so, as well, though their movement is allowing online prayer quorums during the “crisis situation.”
While rabbis are taking myriad precautions to prepare for the High Holidays, Gary Slutkin, a physician and epidemiologist formerly with the World Health Organization, told me that he sees “no legitimate reason for any in-person service … you cannot protect yourself enough.”
The Orthodox Jewish community, especially in New York and New Jersey, was hit early and hard by the coronavirus. After months of watching my community suffer, I wish those considering coming together this holiday season — particularly indoors — would learn from our tragedies and avoid repeating our mistakes.
And thanks to warnings to restrict Passover Seders to immediate households only, we mostly managed to keep Passover, in early April, from spreading the virus the way Purim had.
But now it’s months later. And unlike Passover, which centers on home-based Seders, the High Holidays are built around communal worship.
Yet as hard as it may be to limit coming together, the Jewish community can’t allow the massive spread of covid-19 to become the legacy of this holiday season.
Saving a life is the highest value, and any law can be broken to save a life, including the rule about electricity on Shabbat and holidays. This situation seems to me to fit that principle perfectly.