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Local synagogues not rushing to reopen under new guidelines

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The next phase of reopening for Riverside County also allows in-person religious services to be held at 25 percent capacity.

Jewish communities in the Coachella Valley continue to celebrate a week of high holiday during the pandemic. 

Doors remained shut at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs Tuesday as   Riverside County is moving forward into the next phase of reopening allowing modified in-person worship. 

“It's certainly a step in the right direction with the means that the infection rate has continued to go down. As far as Temple Isaiah is concerned, you know, we have a more elderly population. So we're a bit more cautious," said Rabbi Steven Rosenberg.

And more cautious they are, which is why Rabbi Rosenberg will consider in-person services after the Jewish high holidays. 

“We will be looking at this as a congregation after the holidays. So my best guess is probably next by the end of the high holidays and next week, we'll be talking about this,"said Rabbi Rosenberg.

At Temple Isaiah, the Rabbi told us they will use a stage outside the synagogues to host their drive in high holiday services that will also be broadcasted online.  It's a way for their congregation to continue to worship together as a community. 

“So we'll be doing called Kol Nidre outside. and then Yom Kippur we'll be still on zoom," said Rabbi Rosenberg. "Everything is still on zoom.” 

Rabbi Rosenberg said once the synagogue safely reopens strict measures will be in place. 

“Things like masks will still be required and social distancing," said Rabbi Rosenberg. "We need to look at that but the bottom line for me is to ensure that the welfare of our community comes first.” 

At Temple Sinai in Palm Desert, the Rabbi there said he’s not quite ready to reopen.

“That’s something I will have to discuss with my leadership to figure out what we're going to do to make it happen,"said Rabbi David Novak. "Our congregation uses prayer books. There's a lot of moving parts that go into what we do for our worship. But we're going to have to wait to see how that's going to work out in practice.” 

Under the red tier of Gov. Gavin Newsom's new framework that unveiled last month, the county will be able to reopen movie theaters and restaurants for indoor dining at 25% capacity and churches for indoor worship at 25% capacity. Shopping centers may expand from 25% capacity to half capacity under the red tier.

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Dani Romero

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