Israelis celebrate a wedding at a public park in Efrat, in Gush Etzion, March 15, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90) Gershon Elinson/Flash90

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The people of Israel are finding creative ways to thrive and survive, while adhering to the restrictions in place to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

By United with Israel Staff

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled on Saturday stringent restrictions on gatherings to contain the coronavirus, Israelis almost immediately began developing strategies to maintain normalcy, preserve Jewish ritual life, and cultivate joy in trying times.

With a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, the minimum quorum for communal prayer, impromptu prayer groups are springing up in apartment buildings and synagogues are staggering prayer schedules to ensure that no more than 10 people gather at once.

Weddings are an even greater challenge, but Israelis are finding a way.

For example, Shifra Penkower, a resident of Efrat, told United with Israel (UWI) that she heard live musicians coming from her neighbors’ backyard and found a wedding taking place on the balcony of the bride’s home, with the “guests” cheering the new couple from their own balconies, thereby avoiding the ban on gatherings.

“The neighbors came out on their balconies to sing, dance, clap and throw candy for the couple,” she said. “It was a burst of joy amid our uncertain and stressful circumstances. No matter the situation, we always find reasons and opportunities to dance. Joy will find a way!”

At a recent circumcision ceremony (brit), which normally attracts large numbers of people, guests were given numbers outside to enter the building and were permitted say a quick “mazel tov,” before leaving so the next person could enter.

With all schools closed for at least a month, the online learning program Torah Live is offering schools two months of free programming. Included are study sheets, tests and games to reinforce skills.

Unfortunately, some events simply can’t be accommodated, such as concerts, movies, and theater productions.

Such was the case for Sharon Katz, founder and producer of a women’s performance called “Dames of the Dance,” which raises money for charity.

“In the 12 years of the production, even through wars and intifadas the show went on,” said Katz. “Then, we had bulletproof buses to transport people. With coronavirus, the only protection is keeping people away from each other.”

“The Jewish people have always persevered through terrible times and our strength has always come from our unity. We are an eternal people capable of adjusting to new realities and even thriving under these circumstances,” Katz added,