May 25, 2024
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Rabbinical Emissary Institute Releases Guide for High Holidays Under Health Restrictions

Ahead of an unprecedented high-holiday season that promises to be defined by restrictions and limited access to synagogues, the Straus-Amiel Rabbinical Emissary Program of Ohr Torah Stone has released a guide for local communities to confront the numerous practical, communal and ritual challenges that are likely to arise.

The guide, which has already been distributed to rabbinical and community leaders around the globe, stresses that safety and public health is the primary concern even when it comes at the expense of commonly accepted traditions and rituals. With the blowing of the shofar being a highlight of the Rosh Hashanah service, the guide outlines suggestions for ensuring as many people as possible are able to hear the shofar even if they can’t make it to a public service.

Similarly for Yom Kippur, when the Kol Nidre and Yizkor Memorial services are typically the most attended portions of the day and defined by large gatherings, the guide recommends that where necessary communities broadcast these service online before the onset of the holiday.

The guide stresses that because the pandemic and its spread manifests itself in different ways in different parts of the world, every community should respond accordingly. “Our sincere hope is that the High Holidays will be defined by caution and concern for our fellow community members so that we will be blessed to see this pandemic period behind us and we can return to our beloved traditions and houses of prayer in the ways that we have always known and loved,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, president and rosh yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone.

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