California shuls back on lockdown, Israelis lose trust in gov’t, Ukraine blocks Jewish pilgrimage


Synagogues in California have been shut down again following statewide restrictions announced by the governor with cases of the coronavirus there continuing to rise.

The order issued Monday closes all indoor dining, bars, zoos and museums throughout the state, as well as gyms, houses of worship, hair salons, malls and other businesses in 29 counties that are home to some 80 percent of Californians, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The closures by Gov. Gavin Newsom come a month after the state said that restaurants, retail stores, bars, religious services and gyms could reopen with modifications in certain counties.

Over a dozen Orthodox synagogues in Los Angeles signed a letter in May saying they would stay closed an additional two weeks after the state permits gatherings of 10 or more.

There have been more than 7,000 deaths from the coronavirus in California, which has averaged 8,211 new cases a day of COVID-19 in the last week, the Times reported Monday. The previous week, the average was 7,876.

Israel’s Health Ministry is considering ordering Israelis to limit their Rosh Hashanah celebrations to only their nuclear families, an Israeli newspaper is reporting.

The order would come with a total lockdown of Israeli cities for the High Holidays, a repeat of the Passover closure policy, Israel Hayom reported Tuesday, citing unnamed senior Health Ministry officials.

“The prevailing assessment right now is that there will be no alternative other than to issue orders to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the nuclear family alone,” an official was quoted as saying.

The decision will be based on the spread of the coronavirus and information and warnings from other countries and the World Health Organization, according to the report.

The Makor Rishon newspaper first reported on Monday that Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority will allow non-citizens to enter Israel to attend life-cycle events including weddings, births, and bar and bat mitzvahs.

Advance coordination and proof of health insurance, including for Covid-19, is required, as is a two-week isolation for the visitors, who can include the relatives’ spouses and children who are under the age of 1. The immediate relatives include grandparents. In addition, the parents of Israeli citizens who are expected to give birth within a month or have given birth in the previous month also can request entrance to the country. Parents of lone soldiers will be allowed to visit as well, according to the report.

Israel’s current ban on the entrance of non-citizens is in effect until Aug. 1.

The Israeli public’s trust in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s health and economic experts has declined dramatically, according to a new survey.

The Israel Democracy Institute found that only 40.5 percent of Israelis say they have trust in government medical experts, 29.5 percent in Netanyahu, 27 percent in Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein and 23 percent in the government’s treasury and economy experts.

Overall, 75 percent of Israelis chose negative words to describe how they feel the government is functioning during the corona crisis.

Prof. Tamar Hermann, academic director of IDI’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research said fear of infection and fear of an economic crisis have led to “a collapse in public confidence in both individuals and organizations entrusted with handling the corona crisis.”

The survey was conducted from July 9 to July 12, amidst a surge in new virus cases and rising unemployment.

The tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims who travel each year to Ukraine for a Rosh Hashanah rite will have to make different plans for September.

The Ukrainian government has barred the trip to Uman, where the revelers mark the Jewish New Year at the burial site of an 18th century rabbi, saying concerns over the spread of the coronavirus was too great, the Hebrew-language website Beharedi Haredim first reported.

The pilgrimage has created frequent friction between the predominantly Israeli pilgrims and locals, many of whom resent the cordoning off of neighborhoods by police.

A letter from the government stopping the pilgrimage — issued after a meeting of government ministers on July 9 — said the decision “has nothing to do with politics and anti-Semitism.” It also said that Israeli officials understand and agree with Ukraine’s decision in light of the situation.

Recommended Reading

“Want to pray with a synagogue minyan? Sign this COVID-19 waiver first.” JTA’s Ben Sales reports on synagogues that are asking congregants to sign a waiver releasing the congregation from any liability should they fall ill from attending an in-person service.


Kulanu sponsors an online lecture on “How the Bene Israel of India Became Mainstream,” with professor Shalva Weil, a senior researcher at the Hebrew University, the founding chairperson of the Israel-India Cultural Association, and a leading scholar of Indian Jewry. Wednesday, July 22 at 1 p.m.

The Center for Security Policy will sponsor a webinar panel discussion on Israeli-Iranian Relations After the Mullahs on Wednesday, July 15, at 1 p.m.

The Center for Jewish History will mark the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with an online seminar with disability rights activist Judy Heumann on Wednesday at 4 p.m. An ASL interpreter will be present.

The Jewish Council on Public Affairs will sponsor Black Lives Matter: A Conversation on Being Black and Jewish at this Moment, on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Boston’s Mayyim Hayyim mikveh will sponsor Mikveh 101, an online introduction to the ritual bath on Wednesday at noon. Further installments of this educational series will be offered on Oct. 22 at noon and Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.