Photo: Avihu Shapira
Ultra-Orthodox Jews battle winter storm
Photo: Avihu Shapira

Rabbis: Don't go to synagogue in the snow

Stormy weather affects religious life in Jerusalem: Worshippers advised not to leave home if going out could result in slipping on ice, while Chabad prepares to provide stranded residents with Shabbat meals and emergency midwife.

The stormy weather in Israel is affecting religious life too. Jerusalem's rabbis have called on residents not to leave their homes even to go to synagogue, if going out could result in slipping on snow.



Rabbis Aryeh Stern and Shlomo Amar issued a statement stressing that the temporary order applies even if staying at home involves missing a public prayer (as part of a quorum), which on regular days is favored over an individual prayer.


In addition, different rabbis have issued rulings in their communities that a woman who has completed her niddah (menstruation) days, and must now immerse in a mikveh (ritual), is permitted to postpone the immersion and sexual intercourse with her husband if the weather makes it difficult for her to reach the mikveh.


Snow in Jerusalem. Women permitted to postpone mikveh visit (Photo: EPA)
Snow in Jerusalem. Women permitted to postpone mikveh visit (Photo: EPA)


Jerusalem's Religious Council is preparing for a continuation of the storm over the weekend and has raised concerns that the eruv wires (a ritual enclosure constructed around the city as a way to permit religious Jews to carry certain objects outside their own homes on Shabbat) would be torn by the wind, causing residents to desecrate the holy day.


A special call center (972-2-6214800) will be operated on Friday to provide updates on any problems involving the eruv system.


Importance of mutual aid

Jerusalem's rabbis have also asked the public to check the kashrut of food offered restaurants in the city, in case kashrut supervisors are unable to get to work due to the weather.


"The kashrut department will do everything in its power to reach the businesses which are open during the storm, but could be restricted by the weather," the rabbis stated. "The public must be aware of the issue."


Officials at the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said they were making an effort to allow worshippers and visitors to reach the holy site despite the bad weather.


Winter at the Western Wall (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
Winter at the Western Wall (Photo: EPA)


Meanwhile, 26 Chabad House managers have established a "snow command post" to provide residents with Shabbat meals, provide rescue meals and hand out basic commodities to the needy, including blankets and baby food.


Dozens of volunteers will answer any call for help and families will host residents whose homes are out of power. An "emergency midwife" on behalf of Chabad has volunteered to help women from central and northern Jerusalem who are unable to reach a hospital to give birth.


Rabbis Stern and Amar also stressed the important of mutual aid and called on communities and individuals to search for people in need.


"This appeal is being made not only to synagogue goers but to the entire public," they stressed. "The snow is party of God's grace, and these days we must learn from him and impart our grace on those surrounding us who are in need of help."


פרסום ראשון: 01.09.15, 00:05
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