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Feb 14, 2021

vaccine only shul

There have been a lot of proposals about how to open things up again, now that we are post-lockdown and with a nice percentage of the population vaccinated. Just to be clear, there have been a lot of proposals, though no decisions about any of this has yet been made. There are all sorts of proposals to open things up, and some of them by and for private institutions, only for people already vaccinated or recovered - proposals have recommended only letting teachers back to work after getting the vaccine, only letting vaccinated people go to concerts, yeshiva rebbe's must be vaccinated, yeshiva students must be vaccinated, employees, etc.

One noteworthy proposal was made, being to only allow vaccinated people back into the shuls.

Some might scream about this being anti-religious or anti-haredi. One might assume that such a proposal was made by someone like an MK such as Avigdor Lieberman or Yair Lapid, taking advantage of the situation to hurt the Haredim. 

Actually this proposal was made by MK Yaakov Margi, of Shas.

While it sounds like a reasonable idea for consideration, I do not see how it can possibly work.

Who is going to be in charge of  checking each person entering the shul? And guests who don't bring the vaccination paper with them won't be let in? And what about children who cannot yet get vaccinated  - will adults be told to go to shul alone and leave the children at home?

Shuls are already hardly enforcing masks and pods and numbers of people allowed in and distancing (yes, some shuls are very strict about this, but many are not), does anyone expect that shuls can or will enforce that only vaccinated people can enter? Enforcing vaccination-entry only seems like a much more difficult and less realistic task.

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  1. Right now shuls are limited to 10 outside, 5 inside. Pods are not allowed (as per the misrad habriut's website), so a lot of shuls are saying to leave kids at home anyway. True, some people who would be able to go to shul would not (13-16 year-old boys), but this is a reasonable cost for allowing far more people in safely.

    As to how will the logistics go, that's for each shul to figure out for itself. The shuls that can develop a system shouldn't be penalized because not every one will be able to. Questions about what to do about guests is not a reason to nix this proposal. Honestly, being somewhat in that position myself, it's not such a difficult thing to do, and worth the extra effort.

    Regulations aren't being enforced? All that means is that shuls that are obeying the law are being penalized. If this proposal passes, the places that aren't listening to the rules will continue to not do so, and those that are will be able to allow in more people safely. It will also give a way for non-compliant shuls to be compliant.

    I really don't understand why they issues you raised are a reason to not do this. It won't be easy (or even possible) for some places, but those places aren't any worse off if this isn't passed.

  2. It would be difficult to enforce in shuls, especially if there are individuals who refuse to get vaccinated, and refuse to leave if the gabbai asks them to - the Gabbai doesn't really have the ability to monitor everyone's status, especially as people come and go throughout davenining, and there are normally multiple entrances (especially now when all doors are open for the benefit of people davening outside).

    However the Iriya or Police should send a message to shuls saying that they can only have vaccinated people inside, and that there will be a serious fine for anyone found in a shul who is not vaccinated, and that there will be spot checks several times a week. (They could even have an official poster which needs to be posted at every entrance as a condition of opening)

    If the shul put up a sign at every entrance informing people that entry forbidden without a Vaccination Certificate, and that there is a high chance of getting fined if you disregard the rule, that would take the onus off the Gabbai and allow at-risk people, some of whom haven't been to shul for for months to safely come back to shul.

    Not sure how this could be enforced on Shabbat, but certainly during the week it would be a step in the right direction and help encourage those who are still vaccination hesitant to go and get a jab.


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