Communal organisations still seeking clarity on legality of open-air Rosh Hashanah gatherings

Talks with government ongoing as 'rule of six' comes into force in England


Discussions are continuing between communal organisations and the government to clarify the position on outdoor services for Rosh Hashanah as new social distancing rules came into force in England on Monday. 

One council, Barnet, has already told residents that private minyans can no longer be held in gardens although synagogues and community centres can hold overflow services in outdoor locations such as adjoining car parks. 

But Hackney Council said on Sunday it was still awaiting further guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. 

A spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council said that conversations were “ongoing”. 

Under the new “rule of six”, people may only socialise in groups of six indoors and outdoors – which include children under 12 in England, although they are exempt from limits in Wales and Scotland. 

Weddings and other life cycle events can continue with a maximum of 30 in attendance. 

But while wedding receptions are still permissible, other celebrations remain in doubt. The JC has learned of at least one catered barmitzvah celebration being cancelled as a result of the tougher new rules. 

The United Synagogue told communities that gatherings such as outdoor shofar blowing in local parks can no longer take place.some have cancelled their communal tashlich. 

There is no limit to the numbers who can pray inside a place of worship as long as social distancing guidelines are observed. 

But supporters of garden minyanim say it is still safer to pray outdoors and many synagogues will not have room for everybody under the hygiene measures. 


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