Boris Johnson: Rosh Hashanah marks ‘end of a year many would like to forget’
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Boris Johnson: Rosh Hashanah marks ‘end of a year many would like to forget’

Prime Minister reflects on 'disproportionate losses' in the Jewish community as he calls on British Jews to 'save the lives of your fellow citizens' this Rosh Hashanah

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reflected on the “disproportionate losses” in the community during the pandemic, closures of synagogues and cancelled simchas – as he wished British Jews a happy new year.

Delivering his Rosh Hashanah message to the community, he said the sound of the shofar would “signal not just the arrival of a new year, but also the end of one that many would like to forget.”

In a year dominated by coronavirus, which has caused the deaths of more than 500 members of the community – and over 40,000 across the country, he said the virus “for reasons we still don’t fully understand, has hit Jews of Britain particularly hard.”

And the disproportionate losses you have suffered have been compounded by the necessary privations of lockdown.”

Synagogues that have remained open for centuries, welcoming worshippers on Shabbat even as Nazi bombs rained from the sky, were forced to close their doors just when people needed spiritual comfort more than ever.”

It’s been a year of cancelled and postponed bar and bat mitzvah celebrations.”

 

This comes after Boris Johnson made it illegal to gather in groups of more than six on Monday. Synagogues are allowed to hold greater numbers  – provided congregants in groups of more than six maintain social distancing and followed safety guidelines – within the shul building. This week, Chief Rabbi Mirvis called on the people to abide by virus guidelines at “risk posing a danger to the lives of others”.

The Prime Minister said the tightening of restrictions has “come as a real blow to those who hoped to mark the high holy days with some degree of normality.”

Being required to mark Rosh Hashanah without the close embrace of family will make this a difficult end to what has been a very difficult year.”

But, here in the UK and around the world, Jewish communities have never been ones to take adversity lying down”

So I was not in the least surprised to see you responding to the challenges of Coronavirus with typical vim, vigour and ingenuity.”

Reaching out to support one another. Offering spiritual, practical and financial help to friends and neighbours of all faiths and none. And finding new ways to come together as a community for education, prayer and celebration.”

Calling on the community to follow guidelines to stem the flow of transmission of virus – and save lives.

“When it comes to totting up good deeds from the year gone by, I can’t think of anything greater than doing what was needed, however tough, to save the lives of your fellow citizens.”

Shana Tova – and may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

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