We form a community, and then the community can praise God together.

The biggest difficulty (through the COVID crisis) that we that we've encountered in Orthodox Judaism [is that] you need to have a quorum. It's called a minyan. And, matter of fact, that would be a good definition of the word minyan is a quorum, and it consists of 10 men, or more. If you have less than that, there's certain parts in the service that a person cannot do. The idea of it is that we form a community, and then the community can praise God together. And there's certain prayers, certain things that we can only do as a group and Judaism actually mandates, don't separate yourself from the community. You have to be with people. We don't believe in hermits and caves. And of course we can't do that.

There's not so many of us left in Duluth. We all are calling one another every now and then there's a couple who I haven't called, but I see them online. My computer is always up and running while I'm working, 'cause I get probably close to 100 emails a day, a lot of spam, but I can instant message and talk with a few of them. I speak regularly with a few of them here and there, and then those that I haven't with, I know I'll talk to one fellow named David, and he said, "Well, I talked to Joe yesterday." Okay, well then I don't need to talk to Joe. We're all kind of interconnecting with one another that way, but it's been very difficult we can't get together. 

Matter of fact, a good part of my day-to-day I took off from work to try to help to find a hall so that we can get together at least for the High Holy Days that are coming up next month.  And it needs to be a large hall. Now I think, and I can't say yet, but I think we found something that’s rated to have 100 people, which means we can have up to 25 people. Basically, that's going to say, just some immediate members here in Duluth, nobody from out of town allowed, even if they're a member, we're sorry. If you get too many people, maybe we'd have to do [it] in shifts or will just have to tell people, you can only go to the morning service and you can only go to the afternoon service, you can only go to tomorrow’s service. I'm not sure how that's going to play out. 

That's been the hardest part because years ago, when there was more of a Jewish community in Duluth, we had services three times a day, every day. And it was a big family. We all knew one another too well, it's like being locked in your room with your brother and your sister forever, they don't grow up and leave, they're there all the time.

And over the last few years the Jewish community has gotten smaller in Duluth, but we still had a weekly service every Sabbath, and the same group of people and have maybe 15 of us, and again, we're locked in the same room for years and years and years, these people who I've been going to services every Saturday since 1971, and I'm the oldest of the group as far as that's concerned, but 30 years is the average, let's say. And we can't do that... So that's really affected that community more than anything.




National Endowment for the Humanities Logo

Stories of Wisdom from Bodies in Separation (SWaBS): Archiving the Coronavirus Pandemic Through the Lens of Humanities has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To see the full interviews
and media for this project

Visit Archive

To contribute your own materials to the Northeastern Minnesota COVID-19 Community Archive Project, please Visit Library