COVID-19 & Festival Season
It’s been a Yom Tov season like no other. The Board of Deputies’ living COVID-19 archive contains Whats App messages between neighbours and emailed information from synagogues, giving up-to-the-minute details of the arrangements for Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur and Succot this year – in an ever-changing environment. Letting the Jewish community know how it can fulfil its religious obligations and celebrate the holidays safely and lawfully, in synagogue or at home. With or without the help of technology.
Orthodox communities, who do not use technology, have relied on congregants’ booking the limited numbers of seats in synagogue, with reduced numbers of people to ensure social distancing, mandatory face-covering, no communal singing, shortened services. Older congregants have been advised to keep away. Zoom events have been held before and after Yom Tov.
Those who are prepared to use technology have done so. Some synagogues have live-streamed services, turning on the camera before Yom Tov and letting it run throughout. Others, more progressive, have held zoom services. Fewer people have been to synagogue in person. Far more people than would usually go to shul, have virtually attended services.
Shuls have found ways of bringing the synagogue to the community even if the community can’t gather in the synagogue. Boxes of honey cake, honey and apples have been delivered by volunteers. Shofars have been blown in front gardens. In Liverpool, a mobile succah was doing the rounds and a shul in Salford is offering goodie bags in the synagogue car park to children who won’t be there for the Simchat Torah festivities this coming weekend.
At home, and especially in succahs, gatherings of friends and family have been severely restricted. The ‘rule of six’, and local restrictions, have ruled out guests for many families.
Help us build our living archive. Do continue to send digital material showing the creative ways the Jewish community is responding to COVID 19 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hidden Treasures: Celebrating the documents, photos and artefacts in British archives that tell the story of Jews in Britain
– Dawn Waterman