Our community amid this crisis

The JC Leader, 20 March 2020

March 19, 2020 14:20

The worsening of the coronavirus crisis is no less distressing for being inevitable. As the reality is now biting, all of us must change how we live our lives. That includes, of course, communal institutions such as shuls, charities and shops.

The word community is regularly used to describe Anglo-Jewry. We are about to discover if it represents more than a literal description of a group of people.

More than at any time since 1945, we have to pull together. We have to look out for each other, whether in the most basic way by social distancing or, vitally, by helping the vulnerable.

We understandably pride ourselves on our charities but they will be especially tested. Not simply because their funding is threatened but because this crisis is both testing how they are able to operate and uncovering those people in need of their help who usually fall through the cracks.

And the timing of all this, with Pesach imminent, could hardly be worse. Synagogues and other institutions have to be creative in how they respond, but with an unprecedented urgency. They have to adapt their modus operandi now.

Technology offers amazing opportunities. This newspaper, for example, has been produced by staff working from home after our office was closed on Monday. Some synagogue services can be streamed; communal seders can be online.

It is not just about technology - we all need to rethink every aspect of how we live our lives. A time will come when the virus threat has been lifted. There is no upside to any of this. But when that time comes, we may find that the communal re-imagination that has been forced upon us turns out to be something that lasts.

March 19, 2020 14:20

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