Prepared by the Faith and Halakhic Standards Committee of the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council. Approved by the Executive Committee.

March 26, 2020

The SARS-II/COVID-19 Pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for humanity worldwide. Like other communities in the world, Messianic Jewish synagogues are working to nurture community, to support people, and to share the promise and hope of God through Messiah Yeshua during this difficult time.

Due to restrictions on gatherings and communal assemblies throughout the world, the current pandemic poses unique challenges for sustaining community and gathering for worship and study. We offer the following recommended halakhic guidelines to help Messianic Jewish leaders and communities as they organize alternate ways for their communities to gather for prayer.

  • Congregations should heed the warnings of their local civil authorities and not gather for communal worship in person. The religious value of pikuach nefesh (the protection of human life) overrides nearly all other Jewish religious values and commandments.
  • While the MJRC has no formal statement regarding meeting virtually on Shabbat and Chaggim, the unique situation in which we find ourselves due to the current pandemic, constitutes a sha’at hadehak (an urgent situation), which moves us to support actively the use of virtual online means for gathering together in our communities. Virtual online meetings allow us to come together as communities while still practicing social distancing as required by civil authorities, thereby preventing further isolation. Care should be taken to guard the ways in which Shabbat and Chaggim are meant to be havens from the unrelenting "plugged-in" of our present moment in history, and all the more so now. We encourage communities to take great care when promoting virtual services that the particular service is the exclusive application operating on each person’s electronic devices during the gathering. Additionally, in honor of those for whom the use of virtual meetings would still be disruptive to the sanctity of Shabbat and Chaggim, we encourage communities to provide non-Shabbat/Chaggim virtual events. 
  • While the MJRC has never considered whether a minyan (a minimum prayer quorum of ten Jews) may be constituted by ten Jews communicating virtually rather than locally and has no formal statement to this effect, the general consensus among halakhically-oriented Jews has been that a minyan requires physical presence in the same location. This means that during virtual meetings for prayer, the parts of the service that would normally require a minyan (barekhu, kaddish, reader’s repetition of the Amidah, Torah service) would not be said, even when a comparable number of people is present online. However, due to the extreme extenuating circumstances (sha’at hadehak) and the need for community, encouragement, and opportunities for Torah study and prayer, especially certain prayers such as Kaddish, the MJRC has determined that a minyan may be constituted virtually until the COVID–19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is no longer a threat. Care should be taken to guard the parts of the service that require a minyan ensuring that there are 10 people actually present to say the prayers and not simply logged into the meeting.
  • Although meeting virtually does help bridge the gap of the isolation that has been thrust upon us, it does not close the gap completely. Care needs to be taken that those attending the meeting virtually do not simply watch the service being performed, making them spectators instead of participants, but actually participate in various sections of the meeting. We encourage you to be creative and personal in your virtual meetings.

As the situation is fluid, we anticipate issuing further recommended guidelines as the pandemic proceeds. Our prayer is for a swift end to this plague, protection for all of humanity, and God’s merciful healing for those suffering now.

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"The MJRC consists of ordained Rabbis and associates who promote a life of faithfulness to God's covenant among Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua by providing realistic and practical guidelines for Messianic Jewish observance."

Our Mission Statement

Rooted in Torah, instructed by Tradition, faithful to Messiah Yeshua

MJRC

The Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council (MJRC) consists of ordained Rabbis and associates who promote a life of faithfulness to God's covenant among Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua by providing realistic and practical guidelines for Messianic Jewish observance.

Our core mission is to define, clarify, and foster standards of observance for council members and for those in the Messianic Jewish community who look to us for leadership.

We also exist to serve the professional and personal needs of our members by fostering high standards of professional competence, ethical behavior, and halakhic conduct.

The Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council (MJRC) was formally established in May 2006. It consists of a group of ordained Messianic Jewish Rabbis and associated leaders who share a common vision for Messianic Judaism rooted in Torah, instructed by Tradition, and faithful to Messiah Yeshua in the twenty-first century.

The MJRC had its beginnings five years earlier. At that time a set of Messianic Jewish leaders from New England invited some of their colleagues from outside the region to join them in working on a common set of halakhic standards for themselves and their congregations.