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Arkansas religious leader thinks twice about lifting COVID rules

Rabbi Barry Block says Temple B'nai will not get rid of their COVID-19 restrictions until cases are down and enough people are immunized.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — For some, COVID restrictions relaxed once the vaccine was more widely available... but the pandemic never stopped.

Places like restaurants, stores, and places of worship are having to decide what guidelines to relax and which to keep, but Temple B'nai isn't letting up anytime soon.

"From the beginning of the pandemic ever since last March we at congregation B'nai Israel have articulated our response to the pandemic," said Rabbi Barry Block.

He says the Jewish holy phrase "להציל חיים" meaning "to save a life" is the greatest reason for keeping the restrictions.

"For more than a year we didn't meet in person to worship at all. We did worship. We worshipped online together," said Rabbi Block.

People are able to worship at the sanctuary again, but not without precautions.

"We require everybody to be vaccinated. We require everybody to let us know they're coming and so we have a list for contact tracing in case God forbid that's necessary," said Rabbi Block.

There's a reason for that.

"Why? Because there's a large percent of Arkansans who have decided not to be vaccinated," said Rabbi Block.

Rabbi Barry Block wants to bring everyone back into the congregation like normal, but until the cases go down and more people are immunized... Temple B'nai will keep the guidelines in place.

"Well, certainly we would like to be all in here. I would love to have on our High Holy Days when typically every seat is filled and we add extra chairs," said Rabbi Block. "I would love for every single one to be filled."

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