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Jewish temple alters Hannukah celebrations due to coronavirus pandemic

"Our sanctuary may seemingly be closed, our congregation is not," said the rabbi.
Posted at 11:43 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 23:43:19-05

STUART, Fla. — The coronavirus pandemic is forcing the Jewish community on the Treasure Coast to change how it celebrates Hannukah in 2020.

At the Temple Beit Hayam in Stuart, seats inside are taped off.

The room is empty.

"It's one of those things that as a Jewish community, although our sanctuary may seemingly be closed, our congregation is not," said Rabbi Matthew Durbin.

Durbin said for the first time ever in 27 years, the temple congregation is celebrating outside.

"If there could be silver lining with the situation, it's that we come together as a community," said Durbin. "We broadcast."

Congregation members at home who chose not to attend the outside service attended over Facebook live.

"This is a blessing," said Donn Kilburg, reformed Jew. "To be able to come and stand outside, dress up as I normally would to come to Shabbat, put my mask on, I feel great."

"It's really bringing the community together to access our faith and our traditions and customs but also to bring joy," said Durbin. "It's Hannukah."

Durbin said the congregation is made up of nearly 250 families whose mission is to spread light through the darkness safely.

"Our leadership and our rabbi has offered motivation, encouragement for us to take all health precautions first and yet remembering that we can still be spiritual and still be Jewish," said Kilburg.

Friday's service was the first of many events scheduled for this weekend, according to Durbin.

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