Radlett synagogue shuts on Shabbat as stay-at-home rabbis go online


A Hertfordshire minister has told his congregants to stay away from shul tonight — and log on to the web instead.

Paul Freedman, senior rabbi at Radlett Reform, will be conducting an interactive service online as part of the community’s Big Friday Night In.

Doors will be closed at the synagogue as both Rabbi Freedman and associate minister Celia Surget officiate from the comfort of their own homes.

The idea was a product of discussions on how to boost Friday night involvement for a membership scattered over a wide radius. “We recognise it can be quite challenging for some of our members to come to synagogue on a Friday night because of the distances and traffic involved,” Rabbi Freedman said. “People living in remote parts of Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire can feel quite isolated.

“We already stream our services but this takes it to another level, creating an interactive, inclusive Shabbat, showing our more physically remote members that they are not alone but rather that they are part of a much bigger community.”

Organisers have prepared a “Shabbat kit” for members including candles, grape juice and challot. There are also downloadable discussion sheets.

Interest has been expressed by “members who have moved a long distance from the synagogue”.

Rabbi Surget will lead a children’s service at 5pm. Rabbi Freedman will conduct the main service from 7pm and there will be an interactive Q&A session about the history of the synagogue’s Torah scrolls at 8.30pm.


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