In consultation with the Ministry of Health, the RCA and numerous medical and rabbinic experts, Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn has put together a compilation and summary of health & halachic guidelines and precautions one should take regarding coming to synagogue.
1. It is critical to abide by the regulations of the Ministry of Health and those required to be in quarantine should not come to synagogue for any reason including to fulfill the mitzvahs of Zachor and Megillah reading. Additionally, if you do not feel well, even if you are not required by law to be in quarantine, you should not go to shul but rather daven from home. It is your halachic responsibility to protect the welfare of your fellow. This applies not just to Corona but to any communicable disease such as the flu and lesser sicknesses.
2. If you are healthy, there is no current restrictions on attending synagogue services, shiurim and events. It is important to strictly adhere to the following guidelines:
a. NO shaking hands. A slight bow to say Shabbat Shalom or Yishar Koach will suffice.
b. Upon entering the synagogue, please wash your hands or use the hand sanitizer that TAIS has put out for the community. You are encouraged as well to bring your own pocket sanitizer. While liquid sanitizer is preferred for Shabbat, gel is permitted for us provided that it is completely absorbed into the skin.
For hand washing instructions and a more in depth halachic analysis, please CLICK here for more details.
c. If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!
d. Do NOT touch and kiss the Mezuzah or Sefer Torah. Rather, reach your hand in the direction of the holy item and kiss your hand.
e. Zachor: Although it is a Biblical mitzvah to hear Zachor, it is not time bound and can be fulfilled anytime of the year. Anyone in quarantine is forbidden to go shul and those who are elderly or ill or in the danger bracket, should not go to shul if they are concerned about corona but rather should read the chumash at home (one does not fulfill his or her obligation through this but it’s important to read nonetheless). If one is out of quarantine by Purim day, one can fulfill the obligation through the Purim morning Torah reading. If not, have in mind on Parshat Ki Teitzei to be reading it for Zachor and request the Ba’al Koreh to read with this in mind.
f. Megillah on Purim: It is forbidden for anyone in quarantine to go to shul. Based on the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein who permits using a microphone for Megillah reading, there are those that are permitting listening to the megillah by live stream, phone or videochat. TAIS will be broadcasting live on YNET – please tune in!
g. Keep up to date on the Health Ministry’s instructions. CLICK HERE for details
The above is based on rulings and advice by Chief Rabbi David Lau, Rabbi Asher Bush, Rabbi Aaron E. Glatt, MD, FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA, Dr. James Robb, pathologist & molecular virologist and the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America).