(RNS) — Last year at this time, Beth Meyer Synagogue was thrown into a quandary.

The 475-family synagogue in Raleigh, North Carolina, had planned a Purim parade with face-painting and costumes and plenty of noisemakers called “groggers.”

But a strange new virus was spreading and public health officials were beginning to caution against large events..

“We had major public health experts in our synagogue who were already raising flags,” said Rabbi Eric Solomon. “But they didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it.’ It was unclear. There was a lot of confusion.”

The synagogue went ahead with the Purim celebration — and fortunately no one got sick.

Three days later, Orthodox Jewish rabbis in Bergen County, New Jersey, ordered the cancellation of all communal events; their synagogues were

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