Connect with us
Seder Passover
Israel Bonds RRSP
JNF Canada


With COVID’s resurgence ahead of the High Holidays, some synagogues are bringing pandemic guidelines back. But for most, it’s ‘business as usual.’

(JTA) — For synagogues across the country, it’s becoming a standard part of preparing for the High Holidays: Set up extra seating in the sanctuary. Make sure the shofars are in order. Take out the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur prayer books.

And figure out what, if anything, to do about COVID-19.

As Jews worldwide approach their fourth High Holiday season following the emergence of COVID, a resurgence of infections has forced the illness back into headlines and congregational planning meetings. But by now, rabbis say, they’re used to it — and several told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that rising case rates are not upending their plans for Rosh Hashanah, which begins Friday night and promises crowded synagogues nationwide.

“We’re trying to keep ourselves healthy, but it’s business as usual,” said Mara Nathan, the senior rabbi at Temple Beth-El, a Reform synagogue in San Antonio, Texas. Daniel Weiner, rabbi of Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle, said of his Reform congregation, “We’re just trying to move on with our lives.”

The latest concerns about COVID have been driven by a new variant, known by the name Pirola, which has caused an uptick in cases and hospitalizations across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that the variant “may be more capable of causing infection” among people who have had COVID or been vaccinated, though the risk of serious illness remains low. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new booster shot that will soon be available.

But for many communities, the recent wave of cases is merely a sign that COVID-19 has become endemic and will transition into a seasonal illness like the flu, which has its anticipated but manageable spikes.

As it did last year, Temple De Hirsch Sinai will offer an online streaming option for those who wish to stay home, but otherwise will not be instituting any COVID guidelines. Weiner said he has encouraged his community to use common sense and respect in deciding whether to attend services in person.

And at Kehillat Etz Chayim, a Modern Orthodox congregation in suburban Detroit, masks will be available and the community has been told to test if they are not feeling well. Rabbi Asher Lopatin, who leads the synagogue, said this year’s COVID surge “surprised us a little bit,” and that if it had hit Michigan sooner there may have been more precautions in place.

“I think if we had a few more weeks of it, we’d be stricter than last year,” he said.

At the Chicago Loop Synagogue in that city’s downtown, president Lee Zoldan said the building’s architecture lends itself to the “podding” and social distancing that were recommended during the pandemic’s most severe stages. The synagogue features a 535-seat, three-story-tall sanctuary, and the synagogue has a longstanding custom of having attendees sit in small groups by family.

Zoldan said that the synagogue is considering limiting the number of people allowed on the bimah, the stage from which services are led. She added that masks and hand sanitizer will also be available for optional use.

“We really feel pretty safe,” Zoldan told JTA, adding that she has not heard much anxiety from community members about COVID.

Some synagogues, such as Congregation Beth Sholom, a Conservative synagogue in Teaneck, New Jersey, and Congregation Beit Tikvah, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Baltimore, are providing mask-only sections for congregants. Beth Sholom regularly has masked sections at its services, and offered an outdoor service during High Holidays last year.

IKAR, Los Angeles’ progressive nondenominational congregation, will be conducting services both inside and outside this year as well, weather permitting. IKAR’s outdoor service will have a mask-only section.

One community that continues to abide by stricter health guidelines is Shir Hamaalot, a volunteer-led congregation in Brooklyn that describes itself as “traditional-egalitarian.” At its Rosh Hashanah service on Friday, Shir Hamaalot is requiring masks. Any service leader who is unmasked will have to test negative that day.

Russ Agdern, a member of the community’s organizing team, told JTA that the congregation has been one of the few that has maintained masking and other pandemic precautions since it reintroduced in-person services. Shir Hamaalot’s Rosh Hashanah registration form references “the dearth of in-person COVID-cautious High Holidays options in NYC” as a reason for its decision to maintain the protocols.

“We have community members that are high risk for COVID, immunocompromised, have long COVID, or have family members or loved ones who fit those descriptions,” he said. Using the Yiddish word for praying, he added, “Being an inclusive community that provides folks a safe place to daven is important to us.”

The post With COVID’s resurgence ahead of the High Holidays, some synagogues are bringing pandemic guidelines back. But for most, it’s ‘business as usual.’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading


Treasure Trove: A 1905 postcard from Basel recalls the many Zionist groups and supporters in Toronto

“Greetings from the Seventh Zionist Congress to our friends in Toronto” reads the top message on this postcard sent from the 1905 Congress in Basel, the first held after the death of Theodor Herzl. The image was painted by Carl Josef Pollack and depicts Herzl standing among his fellow Jews awaiting entrance to the Land of […]

The post Treasure Trove: A 1905 postcard from Basel recalls the many Zionist groups and supporters in Toronto appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

Continue Reading


‘Arteries of Capitalism’: Anti-Zionist Groups Planning Major ‘Blockade’ of Ports Around the World

Pro-Hamas demonstrators marching in Munich, Germany. Photo: Reuters/Alexander Pohl

Far-left anti-Israel activists are launching a mass demonstration to block the “arteries of capitalism” on Monday by staging a blockade of commercial shipping ports across the world in protest of Western support for the Jewish state.

“We will identify and blockade major choke points in the economy, focusing on points of production and circulation with the aim of causing the most economic impact,” A15, the group planning the action, announced in a statement. “There is a sense in the streets in this recent and unprecedented movement for Palestine that escalation has become necessary: there is a need to shift from symbolic actions to those that cause pain to the economy.”

A15 is calling on members in cities such as New York, Dublin, Sydney, Ho Chi Minh, Genoa, London, and others to participate in the act, which could endanger billions of dollars in shipping. The group is also sharing information about police arrest, bail, and other legal information, possibly suggesting that its members are prepared to behave unlawfully.

“As Yemen is bombed to secure global trade and billions of dollars are sent to the Zionist war machine, we must recognize that the global economy is complicit in genocide and together we will coordinate to disrupt and blockage economic logistical hubs and the flow of capital,” the group continued.

Another anti-Zionist group, which goes by “Within Our Lifetime,” has vowed to join the demonstration and will participate by amassing on Wall Street in an attempt to bring trading on the New York Stock Exchange to a halt. Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York student who once threatened to set a person’s sweater on fire while he was wearing it, will lead the effort.

Police in Victoria, Australia are on high alert, according to a report this weel by The Sydney Morning Herald. On Monday, the city will activate its State Police Operations Center, an action which is reserved for emergencies and will require diverting resources from other cities in the state. One likely target of the group, the Port of Melbourne, processes over 8,000 containers per day and adds $11 billion to national gross domestic product (GDP).

Anti-Zionist protesters have protested at the Port of Melbourne before. In January, they attempted to prevent the docking container ship at Webb Dock because its owner, ZIM shipping firm, is an Israeli company.

The New York City area has been the site of similar demonstrations. In 2021, a group called “Block the Boat” protested the unloading of a container ship owned by ZIM at the Port of New York/New Jersey, two days after another Israeli ship was reportedly blocked from unloading in Oakland.

Since the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, attempted disruptions of shipping have occurred in many major American cities. Most recently, a group amassed at San Francisco’s Piers 30/32 to condemn the leaving of USNS Harvey Milk, believing that it was en route to the Middle East.

US Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addressed the protesters, according to a local CBS affiliate, telling them that President Joe Biden agrees with their message.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post ‘Arteries of Capitalism’: Anti-Zionist Groups Planning Major ‘Blockade’ of Ports Around the World first appeared on

Continue Reading


Biden Pressure on Israel Partly Due to Concerns Over 2024 Election, Says Israeli Lawmaker, Former UN Ambassador

US President Joe Biden, left, pauses during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo: Miriam Alster/Pool via REUTERS

Israeli politician and former Ambassador Danny Danon attributed US President Joe Biden’s increasingly critical posture toward Israel’s war on the Hamas terrorist group to domestic political concerns and the upcoming presidential election in a wide-ranging interview with The Algemeiner.

Danon, a current member of the Israeli parliament for the Likud party and former ambassador to the United Nations, spoke with The Algemeiner to discuss the ongoing war against the Hamas , potential escalation in northern Israel with the Hezbollah terrorist organization, and the evolving politics of the US-Israel relationship.

Asked about Biden’s pressure on Israel not to enter Rafah — the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza — and to agree to a ceasefire, Danon said, “You know, a ceasefire without us bringing the hostages back and defeating Hamas, it means that Israel will lose this war.”

“I don’t think that President Biden and other allies of Israel are actually supporting the stand of Israel losing the war,” he continued, arguing that “they have other interests in moving forward because of the election in the US and international pressure, but we have a different timeline.”

When asked to clarify if he believed the upcoming presidential election in the US was fueling Biden’s current policy toward Israel — especially in the form of public and private pressure — Danon reiterated that he believes “it’s a combination of the election and also international pressure.”

In several US states, activists have been campaigning for voters not to support Biden in the Democratic primary due to his overall support for Israel. In Michigan, for example, a key battleground state and home to America’s largest Arab population, a campaign to vote “uncommitted” during the state’s primary rather than for Biden gained significant support. Some prominent observers have suggested that the Biden administration’s changing position on Israel and the war in Gaza may be influenced by domestic political fears of losing electoral support from anti-Israel voters.

Meanwhile, amid escalating tensions on Israel’s northern front with Hezbollah, which wields significant political and military influence across Lebanon, Danon made it clear that Israel would remove the threat of Hezbollah on its border one way or another.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, “tens of thousands of Israelis have been evacuated from the northern communities” due to the rockets launched by Hezbollah on a nearly daily basis, he explained. In total, more than 2,000 rockets, along with many more anti-tank guided missiles and drones, have been launched into Israeli territory since the war began.

“They … have to be able to go back to their homes. In order for them to go back, we … have to push Hezbollah away from the border,” he said. “So that’s the end game.”

How that may happen in practice remains uncertain: “One option is to have negotiations and to prevent the conflict,” he said. “And the second option is to have a limited conflict. And the third option is to have a full war with Hezbollah.”

Regardless, he added, in the end Hezbollah “will not be on the fence and they will not threaten our communities.”

The interview took place prior to last week’s airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria last week that Iranian officials have attributed to Israel.

the Israeli strike in Syria that killed two commanders in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — putting Israel on high alert for the prospect of a direct Iranian attack on Israeli territory. The strike killed seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a US-designated terrorist organization, including two senior commanders.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the incident. However, Israel has been bracing for a retaliatory strike amid a flurry of public threats from Iran to attack Israel.

Another important issue that has captured the attention of the citizens of Israel and the entire Jewish world is the continued captivity of more than 130 people in Gaza who Hamas terrorists kidnapped during their Oct. 7 rampage. Liberated captives testified to surviving sexual assault, torture, and starvation.

“When you deal with the [sic] irrational enemy like Hamas, it’s very challenging [to negotiate a deal],” Danon said. “I think we should apply more force, more military force, and that will encourage Hamas to negotiate another agreement that will release more hostages.”

Some of the more than 250 hostages seized on Oct. 7 were released as part of a temporary Israel-Hamas truce in November.

Pushed on why there has not been another agreement since then, he explained, “The challenges that we are facing are not easy. Both the one that requires the defeat of Hamas, you know, we pay a very heavy toll every day, more and more soldiers are paying the price of their lives in order to achieve this goal.”

“And also the hostages,” he added. “It’s very hard for them, the conditions are unbearable, and we are aware of the ongoing atrocities. So it is hard, but I think it’s a challenge for us to be determined. And I think at the end of the day, despite the difficulty, we are determined to win this war, and we will win this war.”

Some Israelis have criticized the government for prioritizing military victory and politics over the return of the hostages. One family member of a hostage said at a rally recently that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “concern for coalition stability outweighs his clear duty to bring our loved ones home … We were told to sit still, we were told to travel the world, but after six months, the hostages are still in Gaza! This is a complete and deliberate failure!”

Nevertheless, Danon is singularly focused on winning the war against Hamas and bringing home the hostages. 

“I think the enemy underestimated the strength of the people of Israel, and they will realize that we are a strong nation and that’s why we will defeat them,” Danon concluded, underscoring the way in which this war has, in many ways, brought Israelis together in an unprecedented way.

The post Biden Pressure on Israel Partly Due to Concerns Over 2024 Election, Says Israeli Lawmaker, Former UN Ambassador first appeared on

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News