Coronavirus: Safety guidelines have been issued for Jewish festivals

Coronavirus: Safety guidelines have been issued for Jewish festivals

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Sheep-horned rush is a key feature of Hashanah – but extra care is needed this year

As the government celebrates the most important festival of the year, the UK’s Jewish community has been given a lot of detail to do.

Rush Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukot are usually involved in packed synagogues and huge family gatherings.

This year, places of worship should ensure social distance and avoid communal prayer shawls and books.

The person blowing the chauffeur (sheep’s horn) for Rush Hashana should be 2 m from other worshipers.

Starting on Friday, the three-week period known as Sky Day is a central feature of the Jewish religious year, but many of its traditions will be impossible to date this year.

A long checklist makes it clear that synagogues can be used as long as covid safeguards remain in place.

However, communal prayer books and prayer shawls, which are usually scattered around the place of worship, should ask worshipers to bring their own prayer books.

Microphones should be used wherever possible, although this is generally unacceptable in orthodox synagogues.

Wearing masks is recommended, and people with new restrictions on social gatherings should not mix in groups of more than six.

The guidelines acknowledge that the “rule of six” will have a special effect on the hospitality in the vicinity of Sukkot – the festival of Tabartus, which marks the end of the harvest and commemorates the departure from Egypt.

Running from October 2 to October 9 this year, the festival is usually called “Sukkah.” During the eight-day Sukkot festival, many Jews build shelter in their gardens.

Normally guests were invited and scattered inside, but now the limit is six – if not larger than the social bubble.

Communal sukkas include social gatherings and “sukhaha crawl” feeding across the community, such as sharing food or cutlery.

Jewish New Year – A central feature of Rush Hashanah is the blowing of the chauffeur, a lamb playing with a tiger sheep that may pose a risk of the virus spreading from a lamb.

To reduce the risk, the guidelines state that the chauffeur blower should be at least 2 meters from someone else and should not be blown towards anyone.

There are also detailed directions for a ritual known as Tashlikh, where Rosh Hashanah worshipers go to a river flowing like a river and metaphorically shed their sins.

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Media captionsThe coronavirus lost the ‘lighthouse’ of the UK’s ultra-Orthodox community

As well as the six and social distance rules, the guidelines state that things used during the ceremony should not be shared, such as prayer books or bread crumbs thrown by some priests over the water.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales has been appointed patron of the Jewish Youth Organization, which celebrates its 125th year.

Neil Martin, chief executive of the JLGB (Jewish Leds and Girls Brigade), said it was an “absolute honor” and praised the prince as “an incredible believer in the power of youth”.

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