Reform and Liberals lift ban on mourners at funerals

Depending on location, from five to 12 friends and relatives will be allowed to attend


The Reform and Liberal movements have lifted their ban on mourners at funerals and will permit the presence of small groups of relatives or close friends.

Following lockdown, the two movements took the unprecedented step of allowing only officiating clergy to attend, while funerals were live-streamed to relatives.

But with the easing of the lockdown, Reform and Liberal religious leaders say that that “now is the time to adapt”.

Cheshunt Cemetery already allows five mourners, while Edgwarebury will permit 12 - ”all to be from the same household as the deceased person, or close family members”. The maximum for Golders Green Crematorium is 10.

The decision to stop mourners attending had been “heartbreaking and difficult”, the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors and the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors explained in a letter to movement members.

“We want to acknowledge those who have lost loved ones during this time and the additional sorrow that these circumstances have added to their bereavement.”

While funeral directors and cemetery staff remained worried about a possible second spike in coronavirus cases, they “first and foremost want to honour the deceased and provide the best support they can for bereaved families”.

But the rabbis and cantors said they would still encourage “positive alternatives to physical attendance.It is essential that we support families in feeling able to make the decision to continue using technology.

“We have experienced that participating virtually can provide much needed support that can be more meaningful than a small number attending and feeling alone or isolated or that families and friends have to make impossible decisions about who can and cannot attend.”

Social distancing would be strictly enforced and those shielding or self-isolating should not attend, they said.  

“Both movements will continue to monitor the situation weekly and we remain hopeful that we can progressively relax the policy, but equally may need to hold or reverse some aspects as events unfurl.”



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