Israelis may be limited to spending High Holy Days with nuclear family

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JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Health Ministry is considering ordering Israelis to limit their Rosh Hashanah celebrations to only their nuclear families, an Israeli newspaper is reporting.

The order would come with a total lockdown of Israeli cities for the High Holy Days, a repeat of the Passover closure policy, Israel Hayom reported Tuesday, citing unnamed senior Health Ministry officials.

“The prevailing assessment right now is that there will be no alternative other than to issue orders to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the nuclear family alone,” an official was quoted as saying.

The decision will be based on the spread of the coronavirus and information and warnings from other countries and the World Health Organization, according to the report.

Holiday celebrations can include dozens of relatives and range from elderly grandparents and others at high risk of contracting the coronavirus to young children, who are considered super spreaders of the virus.

The Makor Rishon newspaper first reported on Monday that Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority will allow non-citizens to enter Israel to attend life-cycle events including weddings, births, and bar and bat mitzvahs.

Advance coordination and proof of health insurance, including for COVID-19, is required, as is a two-week isolation for the visitors, who can include the relatives’ spouses and children who are under the age of 1. The immediate relatives include grandparents. In addition, the parents of Israeli citizens who are expected to give birth within a month or have given birth in the previous month also can request entrance to the country. Parents of lone soldiers will be allowed to visit as well, according to the report.

Israel’s current ban on the entrance of non-citizens is in effect until Aug. 1.