THE doors of Melbourne’s synagogues were re-opened for minyans yesterday (Wednesday) – for the first time since July – following the Victorian government’s relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions announced earlier this week.
As of midnight Tuesday, indoor religious ceremonies of up to 10 people plus one faith leader became permissible; while outdoor religious gatherings of no more than 20 people and a faith leader are now allowed.
From November 8, numbers are set to increase to 20 people and a faith leader indoors, and 50 people outside.
The news was met with the delight of rabbis, with South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation’s Rabbi Daniel Rabin saying he was “very excited” to learn of the welcome development.
However the rabbi concedes it will continue to present challenges in terms of the limited numbers, implementing an online booking system, giving priority access to those who need to recite kaddish, or commemorate a yahrzeit.
“But we will continue providing online opportunities to allow as many of our members to remain being engaged,” he assured.
“It is good news overall, but we have a way to go.”
Meanwhile, Etz Chayim Progressive Synagogue’s Rabbi Allison Conyer said she felt “absolutely elated” to see her congregants again, continuing, “Human contact was missing!”
Echoing Rabbi Rabin’s sentiments on the complexities of managing a multi-modal service to ensure inclusivity and accessibility, Rabbi Conyer enthused, “While we must thoughtfully consider and navigate the challenge of who to invite and how to rotate attendance, we are definitely moving in the right direction”.