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California allowing up to 100 people in synagogues — just in time for Shavuot holiday

Guidelines issued by the state of California on Monday will allow up to 100 people to attend services at synagogues and other houses of worship.

Synagogue attendance will be capped at 100 people or 25% capacity, whichever is smaller. All attendees not in an immediate family unit will have to maintain distancing of six feet, and people will be strongly encouraged to wear face masks. Singing, which has been shown to spread the virus, will be discouraged but not banned.

The news will likely be welcomed by many Jews excited by the holiday of Shavuot, which starts Thursday night and is marked by all-night Torah study.

“We are very thankful to the Governor for prioritizing this issue,” said Dr. Irving Lebovics, the chairman of Agudath Israel of California, in a statement. “The Jewish residents of the state of California consider these houses of worship essential and have been aching to return in a safe manner.”

In contrast to California’s plan, New York, which has the country’s biggest Jewish population, only allows a maximum of 10 people in its synagogue reopening policies.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

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