Leicester shul 'recalculates' reopening plans amid second lockdown

Rabbinical couple maintain spirits of congregation with online programme


The minister of Leicester's Orthodox shul has spoken of his frustration at the delay in its reopening because of the local lockdown. But Rabbi Shmuli Pink said the 100 member families were in good spirits.

Rabbi Pink had planned to resume services at Leicester Hebrew Congregation this Shabbat. He was now "recalculating" as the second wave of restrictions in the area, imposed on June 30, were partially eased this week.

“Judaism is a home-based religion,” he told the JC. “We’re not shul-centric." Synagogue had its place but the important question was "how am I going to be a Jew on a day-to-day basis? We’re giving people the opportunity to express their Jewish pride in that way.”

To maintain morale, Rabbi Pink and his wife Rivkie have kept up communal activities online, including Zoom classes and a three-day Shabbat experience. This comprises online cooking of Shabbat treats live from their kitchen on Wednesday; a fresh challah pick-up on Thursday and a Friday "meet-up" to encourage congregants to make kiddush with their families.

“It's not the food we eat; it’s not the language spoken, nor the land we live in,” Rabbi Pink concluded. “The one defining factor which has kept us here all this time has been the Jewish learning and the observance of mitzvot.”

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