A happy New Year? Actually it’s ‘very depressing’

How Londoners will spend Rosh Hashanah during a pandemic and 'the rule of six'


For grandmother-of-seven Jackie Crossley, the prospect of Yomtov in the Covid age is “very depressing”. Although she has attended Shabbat services at Golders Green Synagogue since lockdown lifted, she is unlikely to be back in shul on Rosh Hashanah.

“My children don’t want me to do it,” she told the JC. “They’re worried about me and I don’t want the risk of getting something.” She would, however, be joining her bubble of six for meals.

“At least I’m going to them for meals. At the beginning of it, I was on my own for five months or so.”

Others out shopping for Yomtov provisions in Golders Green expressed similar sentiments.

A woman who gave birth during lockdown also said she would be skipping services this year. “The big change is that I will not be going to synagogue and I will not invite people over, or go to people’s places. It will be just ourselves at home.

“The big shock was on Pesach [under lockdown] so now you just kind of accept it. It’s the continuity of something which has been in general weird. Giving birth in lockdown, the holidays in lockdown. Everything is just part of this craziness.”

Nigel Finkel, 60, said many members of his local community would be shielding over the festivals. He had been unable to book a place at a service at his own shul as it was full.

He recalled that his Seder this year had “felt very very strange. You’re doing everything that’s expected of you but the atmosphere is gone.”

While there was generally resigned acceptance of the limitations of New Year celebrations under the latest restrictions, some suggested they would not be bound by the government’s “rule of six”.

Menashe Shemtov, 75, expected to spend Rosh Hashanah with his wife, daughter and son-in law and their three grandchildren.

“Who’s going to count? It’s a private home,” he said.

Rozi Orson, 68, is planning to travel to Bristol to join a group of nine family members.

Asked if she was worried about the possible consequences, she said she wasn’t and, pointing skywards, added: “Hashem.”

In contrast, Mr Finkel will be at home with his wife, Liberal rabbi Monique Mayer. “We will have possibly one guest. That’s about it.”

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