NEW JERSEY - The Governor holds a live press conference today on the pandemic at 1PM. During the events, he provides current news and statistics as well as guidance for New Jersey residents on how to successfully navigate very difficult conditions. You can view it below. The talks are straightforward and direct, which is his style. He does not mince words and speaks directly to the public.
Yesterday, he shared his opinion on students wearing masks. While simply his opinion, he is the Governor of New Jersey. Thus, his opinion is newsworthy.
Another major issue on the table now is the right to gather and pray. The Governor regularly mentions God during his talks and has blessed himself during them. The issue is paramount to so many in New Jersey and the nation.
Religious gatherings of all types have been banned by the Governor in New Jersey and many citizens are also facing charges, including child endangerment, for gathering.
That may change based on a letter from an Ocean County Rabbi, Aaron Kotler. Kotler shared with his local community of Lakewood that the State of New Jersey is openly considering allowing an exception for the Orthodox community in Lakewood. Kotler states that the state is open to allow religions to begin praying again in groups.
The letter states:
"With the real reductions in our rate of new hospitalizations, and with the improvement in the public Aiva (Antisemitism) atmosphere, we have reached out to the state to formally request that they permit “porch” and possibly “backyard” minyanim, so long as those are wholly compliant with the state’s social distancing rules. We are pleased to share that the state has indicated that they open to doing so.
We hope to have updated state guidelines that explicitly permit “porch” and possibly “backyard” minyanim, under certain stringent conditions, shortly. We have shared this development with the 4 BMG Poskim.
They have indicated that they can then accordingly carefully update their פסקים to the ציבור, as our community would not be seeing people overstepping any conditions, nor making mistakes, nor any excessive enforcement and Aiva challenges.
We reiterate that how important it will be to strictly follow any guidelines and rules.
Stand by for updates on this, which we hope to have shortly, which would restore תפילה בציבור to our
lives, and which would hopefully tip the scales of רחמי שמים and bring רפואות and ישועות to all."
The word 'Aiva' is used by Kotler to reference antisemitism, though he provides no proof of it in his letter. If the Governor provides relief to all religions to gather and pray it will be big news for all those religious. Stay tuned, and we will update anything to share with your chosen religion and the ability to pray together, if guidelines change.
Watch the Governor Conference live starting at 1PM to have up to the minute reports on the pandemic: