Keeping their distance in Leeds for first minyan

Housing association organises service for those in its properties


With appropriate social distancing, Leeds Jews took part in the city’s first formal minyan in seven weeks to say Kaddish for those who have died from coronavirus.

The pre-Shabbat service was organised by the Leeds Jewish Housing Association as part of VE Day activities at its neighbouring sheltered housing complexes.

LJHA operations director Craig Simmons said some participated from their balconies, others sat apart in an internal courtyard.

The service, also broadcast live online, was led by the United Hebrew Congregation’s Alby Chait, who recited Kaddish. Geoff Baskind, who lost his wife Sue to the virus, wrote afterwards that it had been his “first opportunity for Sue.” Another participant described the experience as “emotional”.

Mr Simons said 300 people had tuned in live and another 1,000 had since viewed the recording. “The irony is that this is a complex with a synagogue connected and on Shabbos they have struggled to get a minyan.”

As part of the VE Day celebrations, 250 special “teatime” packages were delivered to elderly LJHA clients.

“The rationale is to try and come up with new and innovative ways to keep our older residents entertained and safe and to keep their minds active,” Mr Simons added.


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