NEW ALBANY, Ohio (WCMH) — Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown Monday and synagogues across central Ohio have made adjustments in how they will celebrate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We believe that our physical health is of tantamount importance,” said Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann of The Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center.
An open-air tent has been constructed outside of the center, located in New Albany, where Rosh Hashanah services will be held. Facemasks will be required at services, the seats will be spaced apart, and Kaltmann said temperature check will be done on those in attendance.
“We want every single individual to feel safe, to feel like they can come to synagogue and enjoy the service and at the same time, not at all compromise their health,” he said.
At Congregation Agudas Achim, in Bexley, services will be held indoors with a number of protocols in place.
According to Avi Allen, the congregation’s executive director, attendance will be capped at 50 percent of its normal capacity. Members are required to RSVP and attest that they are vaccinated against COVID-19. Facemasks will be required and seating will be assigned so members of the same household can sit together while still practicing social distancing.
“There’s a value in Judaism of pikuach nefesh, which is saving a life, and that value takes precedence over all the other commandments,” Allen said. “Ultimately, that has been our guiding factor and we’ve decided that we’re going to take the health and safety of our community very seriously, and so we’ve put in the appropriate safety measures, in consultation with our medical advisory team, to make sure that we could hold services in person, but also do so in a safe manner.”
Congregation Agudas Achim’s services will be streamed online for those who cannot attend.
Both congregations plan to keep the same safety measures in place for Yom Kippur, which begins next Wednesday.