Northeast Jews brace for ‘historic’ blizzard

NEW YORK (JTA) — Some synagogues have cancelled services ahead of a potentially historic blizzard.

At least two synagogues in Providence, R.I., have called off Shabbat services this week in light of the expected severe weather. More than two feet of snow is expected in Providence, one of the highest predicted snowfalls.

"Due to the impending blizzard, all worship services have been canceled Friday, Saturday and Sunday," said a recorded message at Providence’s Temple Beth-El on Friday afternoon.

The Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the country, reportedly will not hold prayer services this Shabbat for the first time in years.

In New York City, where snow is expected to be lighter, fewer cancellations were reported.

B’nai Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper West Side said services will be held as usual with the exception of a special service for young children, which had been canceled.

"A lot of people live within walking distance, so we’re allowing them to use their own discretion," said a spokesperson.

As the winter storm known as Nemo closed in on the northeastern United States on Friday, thousands of flights and trains were canceled and rescue services put on high alert. The storm is predicted to be one of the biggest winter storms to hit the Northeast in years and comes just months after Hurricane Sandy battered the region.

Rabbi Jeff Prosnit of Congregation Beth Israel in Bridgeport, Conn., said it was the first time in his 23-year tenure that he had to cancel prayer services.

"It serves as a reminder of the humbling aspects of weather in our lives that we are not in control of everything," he said.

The rabbi said the synagogue was fortunate the synagogue did not have to cancel a bar mitzvah.

"We usually have one and we were just commenting on how fortunate the families have been," he said.

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