Covid-19 Community Archive: One Year On
For the past year, we’ve been collecting digital material – communal notices, synagogue newsletters, WhatsApp messages, photos, adverts – showing how the Jewish community has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We now have around 200 items. This includes: the Board of Deputies’s own ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ card offering help with shopping, a photograph of Hager’s shul (the Beth Hamidrash Beth Yissochov Dov) in Golders Green – shut for the first time in 80 years, a synagogue’s prayer for Boris Johnson when he was unwell with COVID-19, advice to the strictly Orthodox community in Yiddish on the restrictions on gathering in groups and rulings from religious authorities about food products that were permissible at Pesach ‘in extremis’. They cover a whole year (two Pesachs) celebrating Jewish festivals and life cycle events under varying restrictions.
When the pandemic is past and we return to whatever the new normal looks like, social historians will be able to examine this material and draw their conclusions. At first glance, I’d suggest there’s been a shift in tone. Much of the early material had a frightened ‘How will we manage this?’ tone. As the year wore on, the material showed the community’s increased confidence and said ‘Here’s how we’ll manage this’.
As lock down eases – for the last time, we hope – and life starts up again, we’re looking back at the material we have collected, cataloguing it, and trying to make sense of the UK Jewish community’s part in a strange and tumultuous time in world history.
If you have an item relating to Covid-19 and the Jewish community, please send it in to us for the archive here.