Religious Services Can Resume In New York With 10 Or Fewer People, Cuomo Says

Ultra Orthodox jewish men pray in small groups at the Kamenitz Yeshiva, in Jerusalem on May 20, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ישיבת קמניץ ישיבה אברכים תלמידים תורה חרדים לימוד ישיבת קמניץ קפסולות

NEW YORK (JTA) – After two months of shuttered synagogues and empty pews, religious services will be allowed to resume with restrictions in New York state beginning on Thursday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his daily news conference Wednesday that religious services may begin if limited to 10 or fewer participants with social distancing and masks in place.

Cuomo stressed that caution must be exercised to make sure the religious gatherings do not become an opportunity for the virus to spread further, pointing to the case of an Orthodox synagogue in suburban New York City’s Westchester County that was found at the center of a cluster of cases in March.

“The last thing we want to do is have a religious ceremony that winds up having more people infected,” Cuomo said. “We know from New Rochelle, Westchester, the first hot spot, that religious ceremonies can be very dangerous.”

The Center for Disease Control had issued guidelines last week for the reopening of restaurants, bars, child care centers, schools and mass transit. The guidelines did not include guidance for reopening places of worship.

New York’s guidance comes as some Orthodox communities grapple with conflicting guidance over resuming services outdoors. Rabbis in communities from Texas to Cleveland to New York’s Long Island have agreed to disagree over how to move forward as states begin to lift restrictions.

Earlier this month, leaders of the Orthodox Union, an umbrella organization for Orthodox synagogues, released guidance on reopening synagogues after a webinar with Dr. Anthony Fauci. The organization pointed to outdoor services as a possible first step in resuming prayer but urged caution in considering any resumption of services.

“The issuance of this guidance does NOT imply that any reopening should be done at this point,” the guide says in bold print.

In Massachusetts, rabbis said they would not reopen immediately even though the governor included houses of worship in the state’s first phase of reopening.

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  1. No no no! Cuomo is a rodef and rotziach! Is it worth it if even one person is killed?! Chillul hashem! And then we wonder why the goyim hate us.

    • Cuomo was asked about allowing 14 during his press conference.
      Strict adherence to the guidelines must be followed or we will have another chillul Hashem on the pages of the New York Post.

      • Relax don’t your live on that trashy paper.

        Not a chiilul hashem. Worry more about yiddisha kinder not being able to got o cheder which is our existence

  2. Governor Gavin Newsom of California recently received a warning from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice stating that he will need to reopen religious services. Newsom’s recent reopening plan allows several businesses to reopen in “Stage 2,” but restricts churches and other worship places from reopening until “Stage 3.”

    A statement to Newsom wrote:

    Of course we recognize the duty that you have to protect the health and safety of Californians in the face of a pandemic that is unprecedented in our lifetimes.
    Laws that do not treat religious activities equally with comparable nonreligious activities are subject to heightened scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. … Religious gatherings may not be singled out for unequal treatment compared to other nonreligious gatherings that have the same effect on the government’s public health interest, absent the most compelling reasons.
    California has not shown why interactions in offices and studios of the entertainment industry, and in-person operations to facilitate nonessential ecommerce, are included on the [essential workforce] list as being allowed with social distancing where telework is not practical, while gatherings with social distancing for purposes of religious worship are forbidden, regardless of whether remote worship is practical or not.
    Places of worship are not permitted to hold religious worship services until Stage 3. However, in Stage 2, schools, restaurants, factories, offices, shopping malls, swap meets, and others are permitted to operate with social distancing.
    Whatever level of restrictions you adopt, these civil rights protections mandate equal treatment of persons and activities of a secular and religious nature.
    Time for Newsom to step down from his high horse and start reopening businesses.

  3. Why can’t they do what the fire dept. does and base the number of people according to the size of the building. It doesn’t make sense that a massive building like Bobov in Boro Park and a small building like shomer Shabbos should both only be allowed 10 people.

  4. I highly doubt he meant broken up minyanim from 6 am – whenever that current gaboim are breaking there head over how to arrange. He meant for small ceremony of 10 to take place.

  5. What about those of us who are not vaccinated? Will we be allowed in? I don’t want the measles epidemic to start all over again and be blamed for it.

  6. Enough, Relax, people. It will be fine. We all got over the people who died from this, what is the big deal already if we are not careful and more die? Trump is taking Zelenko’s protocol so the messiah is safe, nothing for us to worry about. For those worried about young parents dying, that is fine, that is why we need cheder to open to watch those kids if the parents are no longer around. Enough already, relax!


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