Bintel Blog

In the Age of Swine Flu, Please Refrain From Kissing the Torah

By Gabrielle Birkner

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Here’s a High Holy Day dilemma for the H1N1 era: You think you might have the swine flu, but you don’t want to miss your Rosh Hashanah aliyah. What to do?

Forget about kissing the Torah or the ark covers, according to Israel’s health ministry. In an attempt to stem the spread of the sometimes Tamiflu-resistant swine flu, the ministry Thursday released a set of High Holy Day recommendations.

Haaretz reports: “The directives urge avoiding direct lip contact with public holy items, maintaining personal hygiene and sneezing and coughing into a tissue or a bent elbow, not into the palm.”

May we also suggest that coughing-sneezing-aching worshippers hold the yad with a tissue? Bring their own tallit? Or, better yet, stay home and rest?

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