2020-10-08 14:42:00

Coronavirus restrictions re-introduced in Russian synagogues

Moscow, October 8, Interfax - The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) has stepped up precautions in its synagogues due to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

"People can only come to synagogues in medical masks and gloves. The administrations of communities strictly follow the observance of distancing between praying people and the observance of all medical requirements and recommendations. Extra spaces were provided for prayer during the recent holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur so that praying people should not create crowds and can observe the necessary distance," Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar told Israeli charge d'affaires Keren Cohen Gat at a meeting in Moscow.

None of the flock of the FJCR has contracted the infection thanks to the observance of safety measures and extra restrictions will be put in place for the upcoming Simchat Torah holiday, the rabbi said. The traditional Torah dancing will be conducted differently: people will be standing still and the person carrying the holy book will be moving around the hall.

According to earlier reports, Rabbi Lazar closed his synagogue in Maryina Roshcha on March 18 to prevent the flock from being infected as, according to the Torah, human life is the main value. FJCR synagogues in many cities of Russia were closed later and they only reopened after three-four months, when the risk of infection declined.

The Israeli diplomat said absurd accusations against the Jews and Israel, alleging that they somehow "created the coronavirus," are being spread in some European countries (for example, in Germany). The rabbi, for his part, said such accusations are not popular in Russia as Russian society is generally quite friendly to Jews and individual anti-Semitic incidents are stopped by the authorities.

Lazar also expressed his support for Israel's Jews in connection with the difficult epidemiological situation in the country.