Five-fold rise in shul attendance since January

United Synagogue reports growing demand for Shabbat services as people feel more confident about returning to in-person activities


Shabbat attendances at United Synagogues have increased five-fold since January as more shuls reopen and congregants feel more confident about attending.

According to figures released to the JC, for the Shabbat of January 9-10, there were 14 US shuls open with an overall attendance of around 500.

By last Shabbat, there were 44 shuls open (representing 77 per cent of US congregations) with some 2,500 attendees.

And with children’s services resuming, the organisation expects the numbers taking part to rise considerably. A spokesman said the figures pointed to “hopefully a very healthy future, despite the challenges of the pandemic which undoubtedly remain”.

Although the US declined to give figures for individual shuls, it reported that some of its larger North London congregations with more spacious premises were attracting 150 people over Shabbat across various services run in compliance with Covid safety. But others were also reporting higher turnouts in the wake of increased vaccinations and falling Covid infections.

US communities’ director Jo Grose was “thrilled that so many people are now comfortable about returning to shul. We know this number will rise considerably now children and young people’s programming can take place.

“With the move to Step 2 of the government roadmap, we can also bring back socially distanced shiurim and educational programmes, as well as takeaway kiddush boxes in areas with an eruv. From a safety perspective, the more we do outside, the better. Many of our communities have invested in marquees to see them through what is expected to be a busy summer.

“We will also continue to support our communities who feel it in their members’ best interests for their buildings to remain closed for the time being.”


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