Faith Time: Judaism adapts to pandemic restrictions


MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Joining us this morning is Rabbi Steven Silberman with Ahavas Chesed Congregation. This is a prerecorded conversation:

Anchor: We wanted to look at how the pandemic has affected other faiths like Judaism. When you have a world religion steeped in more than 5,000 years of tradition, how hard is it to change some faith practices in the pandemic?

Guest: it’s been dramatic, you might even say drastic but we take into account this is a world-changing event and everyone on the planet is encountering these same fears and stressors.

Anchor: How have Sabbath Services changed?

Guest: the whole world changed so within literally a span of two days we put all Sabbath services online, I chose to use Facebook because it’s easy nearly everyone can access it the downside it’s only one way most of it is from me outward and for a community that’s always operated as a group within a group context to not interact and hear it’s own voice has been painful and challenging

Anchor: What have you had to do to accommodate changes to funerals and mourning practices?

Guest: We’ve had a number of funerals and it’s been painful and moments of anguish, we’ve had moments where people come in very small numbers to the cemetery and as painful as it has been and we’ve temporarily suspended the practice of visiting in homes which have been the practice for at least 3000 years. The Downside to using Zoom once you have more than 3-5 people and there’s feedback and becomes more of a video product instead of being with each other and holding each other

Anchor: When it comes to the traditional ceremony of a child entering adulthood in a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, how do you keep the tradition special for these young people while keeping it as safe as possible? I know growing up these were always fun parties and big celebrations.

Guest: I appreciate you mentioning that it’s for kids entering adulthood we had one recently and it was temporarily postponed we had a small service in a small chapel, the mother attended I was more than six feet away from the woman leading on the other side of the pulpit and the family is hopeful at some point they’ll be able to have a party and we broadcast on Facebook and Judaism is 99% community so taking people out of a shared room whether it’s a chapel or a park has been exceptionally difficult for us.

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