Synagogues in L.A. can reopen, but many rabbis are holding off

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Even though Young Israel of Century City synagogue in Los Angeles can now reopen, its rabbi has decided to hold off. Elazar Muskin is among a group of local Orthodox rabbis who have said they will wait at least two weeks to see whether coronavirus cases surge. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Even though Young Israel of Century City synagogue in Los Angeles can now reopen, its rabbi has decided to hold off. Elazar Muskin is among a group of local Orthodox rabbis who have said they will wait at least two weeks to see whether coronavirus cases surge. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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When Young Israel of Century City reopens, it will hold satellite services in backyards following social distancing protocols. Fewer people will be in close contact with the Torah. There will be limited singing and no sermons.

Even though the synagogue, which has about 500 families, now has permission from the city and county of Los Angeles to reopen in a limited fashion, its rabbi has firmly decided to hold off. Rabbi Elazar Muskin is among a group of local Orthodox rabbis who have signed a letter stating they will wait at least two weeks to see whether coronavirus cases surge.

“This is a question of halacha [Jewish law] and to make sure that you don’t, God forbid, put anybody into danger,” he said. “Synagogue life — something in the Orthodox community which is so social — can be very contagious. It can be a means of spreading the virus. We want to make sure that would not occur.”

Following announcements by officials Tuesday to allow the resumption of faith-based services, rabbis have been grappling with the right thing to do. Some are inviting their congregants back in time for Shavuot, a holiday that begins Thursday night, while others will wait longer. For many, reopening means starting off with significant changes, including backyard services, no singing, and no food or socializing after prayers.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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