Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who stated yesterday that he would only support the closure of synagogues if demonstrations were significantly restricted, clarified today that he believes the synagogues should remain open on Yom Kippur regardless of any other restrictions that are imposed by the government.
“Synagogues must be allowed to remain open on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year,” he wrote on Twitter this morning. “They can operate according to the ‘purple tag’ restricted outline that was already agreed upon in government, just as businesses are permitted to do. Alongside this, we are busy trying to prepare a great many additional places where prayers can be held all over the country, in order to enable people to pray outdoors [on Yom Kippur],” he noted.
Deri conceded that synagogues could be closed for the remainder of the lockdown period: “During the rest of the lockdown, if the Health Ministry objects to people gathering in enclosed spaces, we will all pray outdoors,” he wrote, adding that, “and of course, during the lockdown, anyone who wants to attend a protest will do so only in the vicinity of his home. It has to be made clear that the same law applies to both synagogues and protests.”
The government’s coronavirus cabinet is due to convene later today to reach final decisions on restrictions to be applied to synagogues, demonstrations, and the economy during the coming weeks of the lockdown. An hours-long meeting yesterday failed to achieve consensus on the key issues of Yom Kippur prayers and left-wing demonstrations outside the Prime Minister’s Residence.