Swine flu fears lead shul to plan online Yomtov

By Robyn Rosen, August 13, 2009

Maidenhead Synagogue is making the ultimate preparation for a major swine flu outbreak with plans to transfer its High Holy-Day services online.

Minister Rabbi Jonathan Romain says that should the government call for a ban on large public gatherings, he will cancel services and connect with his Reform congregation through the internet, with recordings of prayers, shofar blasts and even sermons.

More immediate precautions include a notice to members urging them to wash their hands before kiddush and the shul is providing extra antibacterial gel dispensers, tissues and dustbins.

Rabbi Romain is also setting up a “flu friend” system to help those who have contracted the virus but have no-one to collect medication or food supplies.

“We are taking swine flu very seriously indeed,” he said. “It is really important for the community to keep in touch, especially in times of stress. The High Holy-Days are a major part of people’s lives.

“We would use a webcam that people can link to live or even pre-record some of the prayers or a sermon. We’d also email around so people can see key prayers.”

Last updated: 11:20am, August 13 2009