United Synagogue: no immediate plans to reopen shuls

Government set to allow places of worship to reopen for private prayer but US will wait until sevices can be held with a minyan


The United Synagogue will not reopen synagogues just yet despite the government's plan to allow private prayer in places of worship from June 15.

Rabbis and rebbetzins have been told that the organisation will wait for reopening until it is possible to have a minyan and read publicly from the Torah.

But rabbis have been told that it will now be permissible for them to broadcast from their synagogue.

The government's latest move to ease lockdown restrictions comes in response particularly to requests  from the Catholic Church to enable individuals to pray in church.

Rabbi Nicky Liss, the chairman of the US Rabbinical Council, said, "The government's announcement that houses of worship will be open for private prayer is an important first step and will bring comfort to many people of faith.

"According to Jewish tradition one can pray anywhere and at any time, but for formalised prayer services we require a minyan such as for saying Kaddish and reading from the Torah.

"In light of the government guidance, United Synagogue rabbis will now be able to broadcast from their shul if they so wish."

Otherwise the US would wait until they could open buildings more fully. "We hope that we will be permitted return to our shuls as soon as if it safe to do so."

US communities have been running a range of online weekday and pre-Shabbat services, classes and other events.

The US last week published detailed proposals on services three months ahead of the High Holy Days which envisaged people booking in advance to come to shul in person.

Joel Friedman, director of public affairs for the Charedi Interlink Foundation, said that allowing places of worship to open for individual prayer was a "step in the right direction".

People had "willingly made huge sacrifices to stay at home and control the virus while it was essential to do so," he said." But it is a hardship and sorrow for people to be deprived of worship in their synagogue while many other aspects of non-essential life are reopening.   We are yearning to pray together again in our sacred spaces, in a safe way." 

Sunday newspapers yesterday reported that the government was also planning to allow weddings to resume shortly with indoor ceremonies for up to 10 people to attend. The option of outdoor weddings in the UK, which is currently limited to Quakers and Jews, which would be extended to others.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is understood to be in discussions with Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick over wedding ceremonies.

Members of the Charedi community, which had been hoping for an early resumption, were told last week not to expect anything until at least early next month.

According to Jewish law, weddings cannot take place from July 8 to July 29 because of the period of the Three Weeks between the Fasts of Tammuz and Tishah b'Av.

One submssion to government understood to have been made on behalf of Charedi groups proposed allowing 13 people to attend - which would  cover a minyan, the bride, her mother and prospective mother in law - but extending it to include siblings of the couple.






Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive