AFP: Jewish Prayer ‘Miyan’ ‘Impossible’ With Ten People

Agence France Presse yesterday demonstrated extremely poor working knowledge of Judaism coupled with shoddy editing. An article yesterday erroneously reported that Israel’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, a measure to combat the coronavirus pandemic, makes it impossible for the Jewish prayer quorum, or “miyan,” as the leading news called it, to convene.

The March 22 article by Ben Simon had erred (“Religion in conservative Mideast adapts to coronavirus“):

Israel has banned gatherings of more than 10 people, making it impossible for Jews to form the quorum of ten needed for prayer known as a miyan.

The sentence errs on two points.
1) A Jewish prayer quorum is called a “minyan,” not a “miyan.”
2) Under Jewish religious law, 10 men are required for a Jewish prayer quorum. Therefore, the ban on gatherings of no more than 1o peoople does not make it impossible to form a quorum. Under the current restrictions, it is possible to have a “minyan” of exactly 10 people, which is the minimum needed for communal prayer, as long as a distance of at least two meters is maintained between worshippers.
Yesterday, CAMERA’s Israel office notified editors about the errors. While AFP fixed the misspelling of “miyan,” the news agency still wrongly reports that the ban on gathering of more than 10 people makes the prayer quorum impossible.

The tweet above, by Israel’s Kan News, states: “Prayer in the shadow of Corona: In light of the Ministry of Health guidelines, Chief Rabbi David Lau held prayers this morning in a small ‘minyan’ in the open air, adhering to distance between the worshippers. Rabbi Lau called on the worshippers to divide up into six different ‘minyanim,’ so as to prevent gatherings of more than 10 people.”

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