Doctor with Covid finds a Shabbat tonic

Informal Zoom community in Bristol and Bath helped Dr Dan Magnus in his 'emotional and spiritual recovery'


An informal Zoom community that has brought together Jews in Bristol and Bath for weekly Shabbat services during the pandemic has been praised by a Bristol doctor for helping his “emotional and spiritual recovery” after being hospitalised with coronavirus.

When lockdown was introduced, Bath local Daren Gordon launched the Friday night services for Jews in both cities. He enlisted the help of Drew Salida, who plays Spanish guitar during the services, which now attract more than 50 regulars.

One of them is Dr Dan Magnus, head of the paediatric emergency department at Bristol Royal Infirmary, who contracted the virus in April while preparing his department’s response to the pandemic. He spent just over a week in the high dependency unit and was close to being moved to the intensive therapy unit.

Dr Magnus, 41, told the JC that after being discharged on a Thursday, he was back on Zoom the following day for the Shabbat gathering.

“I think there was just an importance and a huge kind of emotional nourishment to suddenly being around lots of people, albeit virtually, from the Jewish community locally who could wish me well,” he said.

One element of the service Dr Magnus found “hugely poignant” was the prayer the group had created for medical staff, scientists and other key workers.

“I was feeling lucky to be alive and incredibly grateful to be back with my family,” he added.

But there had been psychological as well as physical effects and his situation had been “very hard” on his wife Kerri and six-year-old son Elias, who had not been able to visit him when he was a patient.

However, he was fortunate to be treated in the hospital where he worked as he was “able to rely on little drop-offs of orange juice and pastries from my colleagues. I felt very loved and very well looked after by my professional family.”

After a month off work recovering, Dr Magnus is now back preparing his department for a potential increase in cases this winter.

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