Praying in synagogue, May 20, 2020. (Flash90/Gershon Elinson) (Flash90/Gershon Elinson)
coronavirus return to house of prayer


With infection rate under control, Health Ministry okays the return to prayer in synagogues, churches and mosques; stores, beaches and restaurants reopen, but Israelis are warned to keep their masks on and maintain social distancing.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Israelis are breathing a little easier as new coronavirus infections remain at very low levels and the economy slowly reopens.

Public schools have resumed, malls and beaches are opened, and there are even pickup ice-hockey games at Israel’s ice rinks, although the leagues are still suspended.

Although 280 Israelis have passed away from the virus, the number of those hospitalized has dropped to only 121 with only 43 in serious condition. In a country of 9.2 million, over half a million tests have been done and 16,720 people were found to be infected, but as of Monday 14,203 of them have recovered and been declared healthy.

It’s been a tough haul so far and unemployment is still over 25 percent, but dropping as more businesses reopen. The steps Israel took were tough and included closing the education system, houses of worship, public venues and places of entertainment. With air travel at a trickle, Israel’s famous tourism industry has been paralyzed and hundreds of thousands of travel workers are eagerly looking forward to the reopening of the skies.

The lockdowns and public health measures appear to have worked, although social distancing guidelines are still in place to help prevent that feared “second wave” of infection.

Unlike Passover, when a nationwide curfew was put into effect to prevent millions of Israelis from getting together to celebrate with family, the upcoming Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) holiday will have no such restrictions. Synagogues, churches and mosques have reopened for communal prayer – albeit with some restrictions to prevent infections.

With warm weather returning, Israelis are heading back to the beaches, parks and nature trails. Health officials, however, are reminding everyone that the nation is returning to a “new normal” – wearing a mask in public gatherings, keeping social distance, and washing hands often.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that even though the numbers are down and the curve in Israel has flattened, “we must continue dealing with the danger of the corona pandemic. At the moment, the immediate mission that we are dealing with is the economic mission … action plans that will bring jobs jobs and jobs” to restore the economy to growth.



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