Yerushalayim Mayor Moshe Lion called upon community leaders to help the city make safe preparation for Yamim Hanora’im, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“In recent weeks, we have been working to formulate a special plan to facilitate the tens of thousands of mispallelim,” wrote Lion in a letter that appeared on Monday. “I would love to hear more suggestions for streamlining and improving the experience of mispallelim in order to enable, as much as possible, the maintenance of routine.”
In light of Yerushalayim’s diversity of neighborhoods, often with sharply different characters, Lion asked neighborhood administrators to provide the municipality with lists of specific needs.
“We will do our best to help everyone and allow the residents of the city to mark the Tishrei chagim and tefillos in the safest way,” said Lion.
Yerushalayim was hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with large outbreaks reported over the past few months, although the city seems to have shown progress in fighting the virus in recent weeks. As of Monday, Yerushalayim was designated as an orange zone. Over 50% of those infected in the city are from east Jerusalem, according to data presented by Lion to coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu last month.
The decision comes a day after the national Coronavirus Cabinet rolled out an initial outline for tefillos during the Yamim Hanora’im in all zones. The outline stated that tefillos can be held outside in large groups of up to 250 people, divided into capsules of 20 people each. Each capsule would need to be clearly marked and individuals should sit two meters apart unless they are from the same nuclear family.
Tefillos could be held inside, as well, but only in facilities that are minimally 40-square-meters large and with people staying two meters apart. Bigger facilities can hold more mispallelim – up to 1,000 – as long as there is not more than one person for every four square meters.