Familiar friend

The JC Leader, 24 September 2020

September 24, 2020 11:24

Few people will have been surprised by the prime minister’s announcement on Tuesday of a new series of restrictions designed to limit the resurgence of the coronavirus. Even his statement that we are likely to be in its grip for at least another six months was no real shock.

But none of that diminishes the devastation of the measures and the likely consequences. As we report this week, many caterers are already on the brink of collapse and may now be pushed over the edge.

But the impact is far wider than one industry. Almost all non-Orthodox synagogues have been closed for six months; they are now almost certain to remain shut for another similar period — at least. That means that a huge number of people will have been unable to visit their synagogue for over a year.

The same applies to most Orthodox members, too. Their synagogues might have opened but the numbers allowed in have been strictly limited.

At this most basic level, the virus has hit us in a deeply painful way. There is no point in pretending otherwise. But this High Holy Day period has shown how, with imagination, we can experiment with alternatives.

For those able to use their cars, Finchley Reform’s drive-in shul was inspired. For others, shofar blowings outside have been a tonic. And the United Synagogue’s special Zoom Yizkor service this Sunday is an example of sensitivity to people’s needs.

We have all learned to adapt every aspect of our lives over the past six months — and will need to do so even more in the coming months.

When the much yearned for day finally comes when we are able to return to normality, never again will we complain about routine and predictability, whether in a religious or other context. One lesson we have learned is that, for all the benefits of these enforced innovations, the familiar is our friend.

September 24, 2020 11:24

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