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August 20, 2020
Davening Guide and Printable Machzor for Rosh Hashanah
September 3, 2020

Simchat Torah and Sukkot Concerns During COVID

September 3, 2020 – Rav Schachter & Rav Dr. Glatt

Simchat Torah and other Sukkot Concerns During COVID
I posed the following questions to Rav Schachter and to our chaver Rav Dr. Aaron Glatt:
What do proper socially distanced hakkafot look like? Having attended a couple of weddings, I do not think that people can really distance properly when in crowds and engaged in activities like dancing; they seem to be naturally drawn together. What do you think of having just the rabbi or other designated person walk in a circle with the Torah while everyone else is observing from appropriate distances? Are there other possibilities? What would you say about singing?
Also, I imagine that we may have to do away this year with the custom of giving every man an Aliyah. Are there any other issues that we should start thinking about?
Rav Schachter: In response to questions about Simchat Torah celebrations this year, Rav Schachter responded that he was uncomfortable writing a response because he feels that these are issues that each community/rav/doctor needs to work out based on the specifics of their particular setup.

Rav Dr. Glatt: I agree fully. I discussed this so far only slightly, but this will be an insurmountable problem if regular dancing is allowed. I think that hakafos with walking around with the Torah, all socially distanced, can be done safely, and even singing a little, but not much more than that.
Aliyot are possibly doable but would require a lot of stations and planning with partitions. If the poskim are willing to say don’t do it, that is safest.
I discussed Tashlich, men’s mikvaos and hatoras nedarim a little, but formal pesakim on this would be of benefit. I am against typical sukkah hops but there might be ways to do that safely on a much smaller scale.
Yizkor recommendations if not done on Yom Kippur for people unable/scared to go to shul; Hoshanos – – similar to hakafos – if large enough room and small enough crowd, possible, but maybe best to have poskim say that we skip having all members do this and stay in place or only represenatives of tzibbur circle bimah.

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