JERUSALEM (JTA) — The rabbi of the Western Wall and other holy sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, called on worshippers not to kiss the stones to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
The request came after consultations between Rabinowitz and the Health Ministry about required hygiene practices, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said in a statement on Monday. Kissing the stones is a common practice at the wall, which is considered the holiest site in Judaism.
Following new government directives released on Saturday night, worshippers at the Western Wall have begun standing about 6 feet apart during prayers services. Yellow tape now marks out areas of the prayer space that are not to be occupied by more than 10 people at a time.
Hundreds of worshippers visited the Western Wall for morning services on Monday and dozens of bar mitzvahs took place with limited participants, according to the foundation.