The Ministry of Health has asked the faithful to hold prayer services during the High Holidays outdoors, where possible, and called on synagogues to ensure that those who lead and participate in the services – including the shofar blowers – received a third dose, or booster dose, of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In detailed instructions ahead of Rosh Hashanah, which begins this Monday evening, health officials made recommendations for worshipers and synagogues. First and foremost, authorities urged worshipers to hold open-air services, and noted that the weather should allow favorable conditions.

The ministry’s instructions also call on synagogues to ensure that the people leading the prayers – including the hazzan, the Torah reader and the shofar blower – are given a booster shot. If not, the ministry said they should at least have a recent negative COVID test. Anyway, with the exception of the shofar blower, they must wear masks during prayer, like the rest of the congregation.

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Regarding the shofar blower, the ministry specifies that the person should only bring one shofar from home and not use the one provided by the synagogue. In addition, the shofar blower should direct the opening of the shofar to an open window, or at least away from the congregation. A shofar blower who has not received a third booster dose must cover the opening of the shofar with a mask, the ministry said.

Health officials also said synagogues should refrain from holding a kiddush – an after-prayer gathering with food and drink – after services.

The ministry reaffirmed that all indoor prayer services with more than 50 worshipers should operate under the “green passport” system, in which everyone must show proof of vaccination, healing or a recent negative test. Health experts also urged people praying indoors – who are required to wear masks regardless of how many people are present – to practice social distancing by leaving seats empty, avoiding physical contact and maintaining proper hygiene habits.

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