Belgium's Top Court Reverses COVID-19 Ban on Houses of Worship Following Jewish Petition

The court's ruling, which applies to all houses of worship, finds the government's measures 'disproportionate'

Cnaan Liphshiz
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Faithful attend a ceremony for the solemn dedication of Brussels' main synagogue 'La Regence' as Great Synagogue of Europe in Brussels, June 4, 2008.
Faithful attend a ceremony for the solemn dedication of Brussels' main synagogue 'La Regence' as Great Synagogue of Europe in Brussels, June 4, 2008.Credit: Sebastien Pirlet/Reuters
Cnaan Liphshiz

A petition by several Orthodox Jews from Antwerp has prompted Belgium’s highest court to end the government’s ban on gatherings at houses of worship to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Belgium, a nation of 11 million, has the world’s highest death rate per million inhabitants of the coronavirus, with more than 17,500 dead.

How COVID – and Israel’s Trump-brokered lovefest with Arab states – are affecting PalestiniansCredit: Haaretz

The ruling Tuesday by the Council of Stater, a federal constitutional court, was on a petition filed by David Braun, a Jewish lawyer from Antwerp, and several other members of synagogues in that city for an injunction against an emergency measure that said up to five people may gather at a house of worship for wedding and funerals.

In Orthodox Judaism, a minyan, a quorum of at least 10 Jewish men, is required for some key prayers.

The court ruled that “There is a disproportionate limitation of the freedom of worship because the government has not provided solutions for the collective exercising of worship.” Providing such solutions “at minimum level would involve exceptions and other stipulations, possibly upon demand in an agreed upon place and time.”

The voiding of the measure applies to all houses of worship.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations in the Flemish Region welcomed the ruling.

“The fact that non-essential shops, museums and swimming pools were opened whereas houses of worship needed to remain closed was unacceptable,” the umbrella group said in a statement.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage