LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As Nevada continues it’s phased reopening after months of COVID-19 closures, a big question for many in the valley is when houses of worship can open their doors again. While President Trump is encouraging governors to take action, local faith leaders are keeping cautious.
Rabbi Felipe Goodman with Temple Beth Sholom is eager to welcome back worshipers but says he understands these doors need to remain closed, for now.
“We cannot open until we are sure that we’re not going to put our congregants at risk,”said Rabbi Goodman. “I think that we have to be open when the science says it’s okay for us to be open, when we know that the curve really is going down. We cannot open until the governor tells us it’s okay.”
While it’s unclear when exactly that will happen, Rabbi Goodman is making major changes to combat COVID-19, such as requiring masks, setting up several sanitizing stations and checking everyone’s temperature.
Social distancing measures have also been put in place at Temple Beth Sholom, including spacing seats out here inside the chapel. There are normally 80 chairs; now there are 20.”
“We sent a list of measures that we are trying to implement as soon as we can open to our congregants, so they can know what to expect,” Rabbi Goodman said.
Kimberly Malloy has been attending physically-distant services in her church parking lot. As a local therapist, she says congregating is crucial.
“I understand why we closed it, but it’s time now to re-evaluate it,” Maloy said. “People’s faith is very key to their emotional health, so now that we’ve gone 11, 12 weeks without being actually in a worship service, that is impacting.”
Just days ago, President Trump called on governors to open houses of worship, calling them, “essential places that provide essential services.”
“I think we have to go by the science and listen to the scientists, and not to the politicians,” Rabbi Goodman rebutted.
Still, Rabbi Goodman expects to reopen soon.
“I would hope it would be within the next couple of weeks.”