Bournemouth community members have expressed concern about an influx of strictly Orthodox Jews who they claim have been holding minyans in two hotels in the seaside town, in defiance of the ban on social gatherings.
Residents say they have seen visitors carrying tallit bags entering and exiting the hotels, one of which has a men’s mikveh.
Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation minister Rabbi Adrian Jesner told the JC he was aware of the alleged minyanim, having been alerted by a community member. He had spoken to the London Beth Din, which had said it would investigate. “I don’t think it’s correct to do it,” he said. “It will give the community a bad name. And it’s against the law of the land.”
Rabbi Bentzion Alperowitz of Chabad Bournemouth said he had noticed some “out-of-towners” recently and was “upset” by the situation.
It is believed that many of the visitors have been staying in their holiday homes, ignoring government guidance that people remain in their primary residences. One local reported that two Charedi families had arrived at their apartment block, which has a number of elderly and at risk residents. Another had seen families coming for a weekend stay at a nearby block.
It is understood that the vast majority of inquiries about the town’s women’s mikveh have been from visitors.
One of the hotels named by locals is the Normandie. A manager, Jack (who declined to give his surname), strenuously denied that it was hosting minyans.
He said the Normandie had been closed to the public. It was possible that people could have used its garden to daven, or for a socially-distanced minyan, but he could not comment further as he had not been at the hotel because of the lockdown.