Purim Last Major Event Conducted at Local Synagogue, as Gatherings Banned Due to Coronavirus
For the first time in anyone's memory, weekly sabbath gatherings have largely been suspended.
March 17, 2020
Kehillat Maarav Synagogue in Santa Monica conducted its annual Purim costume celebration without its Rabbi. The Synagogue Executive Director said in advance that he would not attend the celebration, "out of an abundance of caution," since he attended the AIPAC conference on March 2, 2020.
Most churches and synagogues locally have suspended gatherings for a couple of weeks. In Judaism, congregants gather on Friday night or Saturday morning to celebrate the Sabbath. For the first time in anyone's memory, those gatherings have been suspended.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies to the US government. One of the attendees of AIPAC's 2020 Conference later tested positive for Covid19, and AIPAC issued an alert. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/4/aipac-issues-coronavirus-exposure-alert-after-conf/
3/9/20: Despite the current virus situation, Kehillat Ma'arav synagogue conducted its annual purim celebration Monday night. Executive Director Kate Flanagan issued the following statement:
As promised, we are continuing to engage with local agencies and other synagogues regarding our contingency plans surrounding Purim celebrations and other public gatherings. Though we do not have any reason to suspect that Kehillat Ma'arav has any increased exposure, we have taken the following steps for this evening's Peace + Love + Purim megillah reading and party.
Out of an abundance of caution and respect for our community, Rabbi Gotlieb has chosen to sit out from tonight's festivities due to his recent travel to AIPAC.
One of our planned activities-face painting-will no longer be offered.
We encourage all of our families to do what is best for them. If you are considered to be in a group with elevated risk, please make the choice that ensures your health and safety.
Kehillat Ma'arav's leadership and staff is committed to keeping our Jewish community safe and healthy and we appreciate your assistance in doing so. Should you have any questions, concerns, or additional recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, an Achaemenid Persian Empire official who was planning to kill all the Jews, as recounted in the Book of Esther. Haman was the royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, and he planned to kill all the Jews in the empire
Listening to the Book of Esther in synagogue, sending food parcels and giving charity, dressing up in costume, eating a festive meal, including hamantaschen ("Haman's ear"), parties and parades (Adloyada), drinking alcoholic beverages, especially wine