Scot and bothered: Leader accuses Sturgeon government of putting 'pubs before prayer'

ScoJeC director attacks delay in allowing services to resume in places of worship


The director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has accused the Scottish government of putting “pubs before prayer” as shuls north of the border await a decision on a date for religious services resuming.

Ephraim Borowski is highly critical of the “irrational and discriminatory” guidance which has allowed places of worship in Scotland to reopen for individual prayer or contemplation — subject to physical distancing and hygiene safeguards — while communal prayer remains prohibited.

Scottish pubs and restaurants can reopen from July 15.

Mr Borowski said he and other faith leaders could see “no difference between congregational prayer and individual prayer that happens to have several people in the same space at the same time.

“They seem to have created a situation where, assuming your building is big enough, you can have lots of people praying individually.

“But they’re not allowed to answer each other. What we want them to say is where congregational prayer is nothing other than responding to somebody else, then that is permitted.”

Mr Borowski said a number of shuls in Edinburgh and Glasgow — for example Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue — were large enough to accommodate people for socially distanced communal prayer and he had been making that case to the government for the past month.

A Scottish government spokesperson told the JC on Wednesday: “We must ensure people that enter places of worship to undertake congregational activities will be safe.

“We are working to ensure places of worship can reopen for congregational activities as soon as is safely possible.

“While we have been clear that we do not want these difficulties to last any longer than is necessary, we equally will not act in a way that puts our progress against this virus at risk.”

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