BOCA RATON, Fla. — COVID-19 has had major impacts on social gatherings over the last two year, including religious holidays. A Boca Raton synagogue has chosen to have their services virtual for the High Holy Days next week.
"Last year was the first time we did a virtual service," said Rabbi David Steinhardt with B'nai Torah Congregation.
Steinhardt said the congregation had to make a difficult decision this year for the upcoming High Holy Days. For the second year, all of their services will be virtual.
"We used a medical advisory committee to make this decision for the high holidays," Steinhardt said.
"Huge, very beautiful, and now we have had one with it virtual, and now we are back to virtual again," said Bill Hurwitz.
Hurwitz and his wife Ivy joined B'nai Torah three yeas ago. Ivy said being virtual last year was different, but still symbolic, during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
"The spirituality has not been lost and I don’t believe it will this year either," Ivy said.
Bill said they agree with the congregation's decision.
"That was priority number one is safe," Bill said.
Rabbi Steinhardt said technology is allowing them to worship and pray virtually, even changing how members of the Jewish faith can worship in the future.
"I am convinced our worship would become a hybrid at some point in the future," Steinhardt said.
Bill and Ivy said the hybrid model is one that they would support beyond the pandemic.
"This has been a major transition change in the whole process of Judaism, communal and together and in place, but now the flexibility is fantastic," Bill said.
B'nai Torah said they expect thousands to join their virtual celebrations next week, and hope next year can be done in person.
"I don't want to put anybody at risk right at all," Steinhardt said.