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Tale of 2 High Holidays: Orthodox Jews go to synagogue, everyone else is on Zoom

18 10 10
19.09.2020

JTA — At the Jewish Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, this year’s High Holidays will be anything but normal.

With eight services happening in various spaces throughout the building, on the roof and in the street (which is closed off to facilitate services), approximately 400 people will gather for socially distanced and masked services at the Modern Orthodox synagogue.

Within just a few blocks of the synagogue, members of eight Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist synagogues will gather at multiple street corners or lean out their windows to hear the shofar after attending Rosh Hashanah services over livestream.

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The different services are emblematic of the starkly divided approaches to the High Holidays that American Jews will experience this year. While for Orthodox synagogues, services will largely be held in person, for most non-Orthodox synagogues, prayer will take place over livestream, with in-person offerings confined to short, outdoor rituals. Jews pray outside a synagogue in Jerusalem, on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, on September 18, 2020. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Even before the pandemic, the two communities were different in many ways. But this year’s High Holidays have cast new light on the primary difference between Orthodox and non-Orthodox congregations across the country: their approach to halacha, Jewish law.

Jewish law is composed of the biblical and rabbinic texts........

© The Times of Israel


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