As Purim begins, L.A.’s Jewish community torn over canceling events due to COVID-19 concerns

Some canceled children’s carnivals. Others called off costume balls. But as the raucous Jewish holiday of Purim begins Monday night, many in L.A.’s largest Orthodox enclave remain torn over how to balance sacred rituals with public health precautions after a member of the tight-knit community tested positive for COVID-19.

Rabbis at several L.A. County congregations said they learned of the case from public health officials, who told them the man contracted the novel coronavirus at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C., last week.

By Saturday morning, synagogues in Pico-Robertson were abuzz with the news, raising fears that the upcoming holiday could hasten the spread of the disease in the densely populated district.

“We’re trying to manage the delta between vigilance and panic,” said Rabbi Adam Kligfeld of Temple Beth Am, a large Conservative congregation whose Purim events are especially popular among young families. “As of now, nothing is canceled. We’re encouraging people to come.”

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