US Surgeon General Briefs Jewish Leaders On Yamim Noraim Davening

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The Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Jerome Adams, briefed Orthodox Jewish leaders on COVID-19 and best practices for the Yamim Noraim during a virtual talk and Q&A session sponsored by the Orthodox Union.

“I spent a semester at Brandies University two decades ago during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur … and I understand how important this time is for your congregation,” Adams said at the start of his remarks.

He told those on the call that “you all are on the front lines” and that “people will heed your advice in ways they won’t mine as surgeon general.” Then, Adams began to outline the best ways that rabbinic leaders can ensure their congregants are safe and healthy during the Yamim Noraim amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike other viruses, including the common cold, Adams said people can have COVID-19 and not know it. “It’s important that your congregation understand that it’s not just about how you feel and how someone looks, but assuming everyone has the virus, and putting barriers and limiting high-risk” activities.

In the context of davening, such high-risk activities include singing and reciting tefillos aloud.

Emphasizing that the safest option for congregations is to be online for the holidays—“I understand the virtual option isn’t something you look to do,” Adams said, noting as a doctor he needed to say it—the surgeon general said that best option would be told hold outdoor services if possible.

If individuals must be indoors, he said, they need to wear masks at all times, remain at least six feet apart from one another, and separate times between the services to allow a room to air out and for proper cleaning to take place. He also suggested that congregations direct foot traffic with arrows or dots on the floor showing people which way to walk, and where to stand and sit.

Acknowledging that the emotional impact of remaining at home is also a vital concern, particularly for those who are accustomed to being in shul on the holiest days of the Jewish year, Adams said that it was important for each religious leader to evaluate things individually.

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all” solution, he said. “One congregation may have mostly older congregants or be in a location with only 1 percent positivity for the virus and another congregation with 10 percent positivity.”

Adams said his family has been worshipping online since the pandemic began, and that they look forward to “the day we can once again attend in person.”

“We just have to get through this with minimal harm” to our congregations and communities, he said. “This is not forever.”





  1. Had we listeneds to politicans back in the day there would be no chanuka and no purim to celebrate.
    Who are politicians and “scientists” and self declared towns doctors to decide how and when we daven to the one who brought about this entire set of events?!
    I am sad to see the fewr mongering and mine control working so well in ourcicles…i am slowly understanding how it was possible for most people to reject Moshe Rabbeneu their moshiach and Mordechai for his daring opposition and Matisyahu for going against the CDC FDA and government of their time.

  2. veyaida kol paul ki ATOH FEALTO!! taking instructions from an akum on how a yid should daven rosh hashana, with the best of intentions ,how can he possibly understand?

  3. Just remember, he is the guy who originally said that masks are no good. (I agree with that, as does “the science!”)
    We cannot trust these political doctors!
    אל תבטחו בנדיבים
    בטחו בה׳!

    • Lies, he never said masks are no good, he said at that time he didn’t recommend them for the general public. That changed when pre-symptomatic spread was proven and the supply of surgical and cloth masks expanded.

      It’s really strange how new information changes things, isn’t it? It should work like that in every single area of life.. Oh right, it already does.

      @ruby- One thing is for sure, Hashem has no use for your selfish and callous tefillos. You’ll potentially sacrifice someone’s life so you can have your proper kavanos? That’s incredibly heilig of you. No wonder an akum can’t understand your noble sentiments.

      @listen to authentic- How’s that going for you? Glad to hear your many recently dead acquaintances aren’t chas vesholom fear mongering, the true yetzer hora of our time.

  4. Excuse me. Who is this non-Jewish politician to brief Jewish leaders on how to go about our davening? What does this guy know about our shuls? We need to blow some shofar in his face to scare him away.

    • While I agree that we do not need to listen to his advice; we should listen to our Rabbanim, I would assume that he was not the one that called for this conference. It was probably called together and arranged by the OU as was the zoom meeting a while back with Fauci.


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