Jerusalem, Israel – Sept. 25, 2020 - It's almost Shabbos, so I will be brief. But whatever you read now will most likely be different in a few moments, minutes or hours, as things have been going.
On Erev Rosh Hashana, the government enacted a Seger or lockdown. It limited the number of people in shuls, set rules for where you can and can't go, and caused many businesses to close.
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Following Rosh Hashana, with the numbers of COVID-19 cases skyrocketing (in fact, over 8,000 people have now been tested positive in the last 24 hours) the "Corona Cabinet" met and pushed all the panic buttons. Discussion was held between government leaders and Chareidi Members of Knesset, as well as the Chief Rabbis about closing shuls on Yom Kippur. Other serious restrictions were discussed.
After two days of discussions, the Corona Cabinet finally came to a conclusion and made a deal with the Chareidim. The plan was to allow a small number of people in shul for Yom Kippur, but it must be 1,000 meters from their home, and the shul must build capsulot, with 10 people per each capsule.
Well, politics happened. The left, who are thrilled about Bibi getting all the negative press with the weekly 10,000 strong demonstrators, are furious that their rights to protest are being curtailed. The religious camp, who is more concerned about davening during the Yomim Noraim than a bunch of crazies standing with signs, cried foul. Their complaint (rightfully so): Why can mass demonstrations take place but we can't daven in shul?
As part of the deal with the Chareidim, shuls would be closed in Shabbos Shuva, Sukkos and Simchas Torah. Tefilla would be allowed on outside in groups of 20.
As of the time of this writing, the Knesset was able to pass all the restrictions. Except for the ones related to tefillah and demonstrations, because they couldn't come to an agreement.
So, shul this week is in the same format as Rosh Hashana, which allows 30 people for the first two entrances and 20 for each additional entrance. Don't ask me how they came up with this ridiculous plan.
The government threw a bone to the religious camps, by declaring Chazzanim, Arab Minim and Sukkah material sellers have been declared essential personnel, so at least a quasi-normal Yom Tov can be held, sans Simchas Bais Hashoeva, concerts, thousands of visitors from Chutz La'aretz and Hakafos for Simchas Torah.
Gut Shabbos & Gmar Chasima Tova to all