Houses of Worship Adapt to Swine Flu

Synagogues, churches, mosques get ready for H1N1
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2009 5:56 PM CDT
Houses of Worship Adapt to Swine Flu
Palestinian women wearing masks as a precaution against swine flu wait to cross the Israeli Kalandia checkpoint on their way to attend prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Places of worship across the country are adjusting holy rituals to head off swine flu, CBS News reports. On the Jewish New Year, one Massachusetts synagogue is skipping handshakes and promoting the use of hand sanitizer—and, in a substantial break from tradition, allowing worshipers to not kiss the Torah. “I said, well if you have a problem with it, you can wave at the Torah, I think the Torah will understand," the rabbi says.

At a Texas cathedral, Catholics aren’t drinking from the same chalice or shaking hands, and pews are wiped after each use. Muslims may be poised to weather the H1N1 storm best, for the Koran requires them to wash their hands three times before prayers: "I feel safer shaking hands here with you rather than going out at a party and shaking hands there with a person,” one congregant says.
(More swine flu stories.)

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