AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The shofar should only be blown sparingly and outside this year because of the coronavirus, Dutch rabbis said.
The advisory on the blowing of the ram’s horn ahead, a core practice associated with the upcoming celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, came Friday from the Dutch Conference of Rabbis, or NCRZ, the country’s highest Orthodox rabbinical body.
Rabbis “should consider inviting congregations to go out to the synagogue’s yard and blow the shofar there, outside the actual building,” the advisory read. It also recommends blowing the shofar outside people’s homes if they cannot attend synagogue services, which are limited to a few dozen people because of the virus.
The Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands, or NIK, asked the Conference of Rabbis to consider the issue ahead of the start of the Hebrew month of Elul, which begins on Aug. 21 this year. It is customary to blow the shofar daily throughout Elul, though this is “by no means required,” the advisory said. Hearing the shofar blown on Rosh Hashanah itself, which begins this year on Sept. 19, is considered a religious obligation.