Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Flagship New Jersey yeshiva cancels Purim celebrations

(JTA) — Haredi Orthodox Jews in Lakewood, New Jersey, are curtailing Purim festivities because of COVID-19.

For the first time in 80 years, Beth Medrash Govoha, the yeshiva at the center of the township’s 70,000-strong Orthodox community, won’t host festivities surrounding the holiday, the Asbury Park Press reports.

The community saw a surge in COVID-19 cases after last year’s celebrations, which came in the early days of the pandemic, before widespread school closures, crowd restrictions and stay-at-home orders were put in place.

Ocean County health authorities have reported 11,369 COVID-19 cases in Lakewood since the start of the pandemic among the 747,000 statewide. At least 268 township residents have died.

“The biggest statement possible is that we’re not scheduling any celebrations” at the yeshiva, Rabbi Aaron Kotler, the yeshiva’s CEO and president, said. “The physicians and the rabbis and community activists continue to caution folks to be extremely careful on whatever activities are taking place or being done in a far more careful fashion.”

Last week, Agudath Israel of America, the haredi Orthodox umbrella group, issued Purim guidelines advising against large gatherings — including group meals and parties — “even with appropriate precautions.” The public readings of the Book of Esther, the centerpiece of the holiday, should be held “without dangerous overcrowding,” the guidelines say.

“It is critical to remind ourselves that the eyes of the world are upon us, and will likely be watching us closely this Purim,” according to the statement. “Acting appropriately in public is always important; how much more so this Purim.”

Purim begins at sunset on Feb. 25.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.