Few synagogues to follow Trump’s lead, Israel eases transport rules


While President Trump wants synagogues and other houses of worship to open their doors, many Jewish leaders say his pressure won’t affect their timelines, JTA reports.

The president last week told governors that he would override them to allow houses of worship to reopen despite orders meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Jewish leaders from all denominations rejected Trump’s entreaty. The Reform movement announced that it “will continue to look to the wisdom of medical professionals to guide us on when reopening our synagogues can be done safely in keeping with our values.”

“While we long to gather in person, we believe that there is no higher value than pikuach nefesh, saving a life,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County, which had quickly banned all communal activities when the threat of the coronavirus became apparent, has announced that tightly constrained Jewish prayer services are likely to resume in there in early June in Bergen County.

In a letter distributed Sunday, the RCBC said it expected minyans to be possible starting June 4, two weeks after New Jersey begins allowing small-scale gatherings. Services will be able to take place outdoors only, with strict distancing rules in place and masks required.

El Al will reportedly test demand for international travel during a series of trial flights next month, according to the Jerusalem Post. In a letter sent to employees, the struggling airline said it “intended to carry out a pilot in June” to evaluate passenger demand.

“A modest number of pilots and other relevant staff will be brought back from unpaid leave” for the program, the paper reports.

Last week, El Al informed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that it had decided to extend its halt on all scheduled flights to and from Israel until June 20, with the exception of cargo flights and one-off services. It said the decision was based on continued Health Ministry requirements for self-quarantine upon arrival in Israel, a ban on entry for foreign nationals, and low demand for passenger flights.

The Boro Park Jewish Community Council, in partnership with Met Council, will hold a Shavuot holiday food distribution to help large families suffering from COVID-19 on Tuesday 1-3 p.m. at 6302 17th Avenue in Brooklyn. Food will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis as long as supplies last. Due to strict social distancing protocols, food can only be placed into the trunks of cars.

The BPJCC will also be offering census assistance during the distribution. There will be a census drive-thru on site for those who wish to complete the census.


Public buses will be able to increase their passenger load to 75 percent of the maximum capacity, and that trains will return to full service early next month, the Times of Israel reports. There have been long lines and overcrowded conditions at bus stations, especially of soldiers returning to their bases after the weekend, as the public transportation routes ran at limited capacity due to restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

All seats on buses will be available for use except the row directly behind the driver, which is to remain empty.

Procedures for boarding flights from Ben-Gurion Airport will look very different when the coronavirus crisis is over, the Globes business newspaper reports. Medical testing will be part of the passenger’s experience on flights from and entering Israel; passengers may need to produce a medical visa or personal medical passport. All passengers may be required to arrive four hours before their scheduled flights.

America was Israel’s biggest source of coronavirus by far, the Times of Israel reports. A research team drawn from nine institutions also found that once the virus reached Israel, a small number of “super spreaders” were responsible for the large majority of infections.

Seven out of every 10 Israelis who caught the virus to date were infected with a haplotype — variant — that arrived in the country from the United States, Tel Aviv University evolutionary virologist Adi Stern, who led the study, said. She said that just 30 percent of people who arrived in Israel during the crisis came from America.


The Orthodox Union has created an online pre-Shavuot Torah learning platform, “Sinai At Home,” which offers learning resources from renowned Torah scholars on a variety of Torah topics. a high level on their own or with their families. It includes learning material and accompanying explanatory video, organized by categories like Tanach, Mussar, Gemara, etc. ou.org/sinai.

The Samuel Field Y and Central Queens Y have put together suggestions for service opportunities during the coronavirus crisis. “Our staff got together and came up with the top areas where our community needs the greatest assistance,” the two institutions, now known as Commonpoint Queens, stated in an email message.

Trybal Gathering’s Day Camp Boot Camp will offer online instruction for Jewish organizations and leaders on how to “campify” online programming on Tuesday at noon. Included will be sessions on “How to use ritual to cultivate a real sense of community,” the creative outlets that Zoom offers, and “tech and camera tricks everyone should know.”

Israel’s Beit Avi Chai educational center has created Makom: A Virtual Shavuot Initiative, to bring the holiday into people’s homes. Via Zoom. In the last few days, it has provided more than 40 prerecorded classes, including many in English, by an array of Jewish educators, writers and cultural personalities. Each class includes detailed source sheets, an explanation of words and terms, and a lesson summary, all presented in a printer-friendly format. Short explanatory videos demonstrate how to best utilize the online resources.

The JWB Jewish Chaplains council will conduct a livestreamed National Jewish Community Observance of Memorial Day tday at 1 p.m. It will feature greetings to the Jewish community from senior ranking military officials, messages from bereaved families, prayers honoring the fallen heroes of all wars and conflicts involving American troops, and a performance by the United States Naval Academy Glee Club.

National Partners in Justice will honor “those who are responding to this crisis in unprecedented ways and celebrating the enormous impact our participants and alumni have had on the Jewish community’s fight against the causes and effects of poverty in the United States this year” on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance will sponsor a virtual “Gen Z Women-Led Megillat Ruth Reading” on Tuesday at 4 p.m and again on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Stand-up comic Talia Reese will perform in a fundraiser for  the Jewish Community Relief Fund on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

“If I Weren’t Locked Up,” a parody of “If I Were a Rich Man,” is part of a new Youtube offering, “Corona on the Roof.”

Join The Jewish Week and UJA-Federation for a powerful virtual evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Thursday, June 4, 6:00 PM – 8:00 p.m. Friedman and Andrew Silow-Carroll, The Jewish Week’s editor in chief, will discuss and take questions on the domestic and global ramifications of the coronavirus crisis and other international affairs challenges. The event is free, but you must register here.