Synagogues in Argentina completely close due to nationwide coronavirus lockdown


BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Synagogues throughout Argentina closed beginning on Friday as part of a “preventive and compulsory” total lockdown of the country through at least March 31 to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Synagogues all over the country will be closed for all services including Shabbat. Before the order, some activities and classes at synagogues had been postponed, but synagogue services had continued.

“The law of the country is the law,” Ariel Stofenmacher, rector of the Buenos Aires-based Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

All institutions of the Argentinean Masorti movement have canceled services, classes and programs. Most synagogues that have websites announced they would hold online services.

The Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires also has closed. One of the largest Jewish community centers, the Sociedad Hebraica Argentina located in Buenos Aires, is offering shelter to Israeli tourists who are stranded in Argentina due to the lockdown.

“Attention to all Israelis in Argentina: If you need somewhere to stay, contact us, we are here to help,” read messages that offer free accommodations in the Jewish center’s main building in the heart of Buenos Aires.

The closures are part of a nationwide lockdown announced by President Alberto Fernandez Thursday night; Argentinians are now instructed to stay at home except to secure food and essential services, including medical care. The government also shut borders and canceled almost all flights with the exception of repatriations of Argentineans who were abroad when the order was instituted.

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