Celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot got underway Friday.
And while many gatherings are being conducted virtually because of the pandemic, one congregation in Park Slope is taking some strict safety precautions to ensure that outdoor gatherings planned for this weekend are safe for everyone.
If you head to Prospect Park this weekend, you might notice a relatively small booth by 5th Street and Prospect Park West that looks like a tent.
Rabbi Rachel Timoner of Congregation Beth Elohim says the structure, called a Sukkah, will serve as a focal point to celebrate the festive Jewish holiday of Sukkot over the next few days.
But due to the pandemic, there will be some major changes.
“Most of what we’ll be doing is out and around the Sukkah,” Timoner said. “Families can bring a blanket, have a picnic, but stay separated from other families, but [they] still have the feeling of community, the opportunity to be outdoors and the opportunity to celebrate the holiday.”
Timoner, who has been with Congregation Beth Elohim for the past five years, said for this year’s observance of Sukkot, a celebration of the harvest with gatherings held outdoors, no more than a handful of people will be allowed inside the Sukkah.
And while a virtual gathering will also be made available, she said those who show up in person should expect strict safely protocols.
“We have security staff here to ensure that every single person is masked,” said Timoner. “It’s not ok to be here and not masked! We won’t allow people to be here if they don’t wear a mask. And we have a sanitizing station to make sure that everyone’s hands are clean. We are doing everything necessary to ensure this is a totally safe event.”
Cedric Pwin will be on hand to ensure that this hand sanitizing station never runs out. He’ll also distribute face masks to whoever needs them.
Pwin is proud to play a vital role in keeping this year’s Sukkot celebration a safe one.
“It’s great. Absolutely, especially in these times, it’s imperative," said Pwin.
On Sunday, from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., Congregation Beth Elohim is extending an open invitation to celebrate Sukkot on the lawn in front of Litchfield Villa.
They just request that anyone who joins wear masks and sit at least six to 10 feet away from anyone who is not part of the group.