The Federation of Synagogues has ordered its shuls to shut “until further notice”, saying the protection of the community takes precedence over all other mitzvot.
Earlier in the week, the organisation had told synagogues to avoid large gatherings for minyanim.
But in a notice signed by its new rabbinic head Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman and Beth Din head Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein, it says that shuls, yeshivot and schools must now close.
It warned against holding private minyanim in houses as an alternative.
“This is necessary to ensure that every member of our kehilla [community] is afforded the maximum protection,” the rabbis stated.
“This takes precedence over all other mitzvos. The most fundamental obligation upon all of us at this moment is to be stringent in the halachos of pikuach nefesh [saving life] and not to allow for the slightest possibility of endangering others with a life-threatening situation.”
Following government and medical advice was a religious obligation, they emphasised.
There has been controversy within the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations over its decision to restrict attendance at synagogue rather than that shut shuls altogether.