The Chief Rabbi has compared Jews missing out on holding full family seders again this year– the second of which falls the day before lockdown restrictions are lifted – to the country not properly celebrating Christmas until Boxing Day.
Speaking a week before the festival, he said it will be “very painful” and “very difficult” for the community to endure the festival under lockdown for a second year running.
Pesach begins on the evening of March 27, with rules allowing a group of six or people from two households to meet outside due to come in across England on March 29.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s very painful for us. It is very difficult. The closest comparison I could make is, let’s say if within society it would be allowable to congregate with up to six people or two households together from the 26 of December onwards.
“So literally within hours of Christmas Day it would be possible to do what you would have loved to have done the day before.”
he said the community would “loved to have the opportunity outdoors to have the festive meals”, but that people will be celebrating “in a pretty lonely way” again this year.
“But we respect the regulations that are given to us and preservation of life must be the top priority, and always acting in a legal way, respecting the Government’s wishes. This is our top priority.”
He recalled telling people in 2020 that “next year, it’s going to be all different”. Speaking this year, he added: “Next year, please God, it’ll be back to usual for our Passover celebrations.”
The Chief rabbi said the “crunch question” last March was whether to keep synagogues open and that he was “proud” of acting early on, before the Government brought in the nationwide lockdown.
“I could never have imagined having to take such a decision. We were determined to be ahead of the curve, not to wait for the Government to force this upon us.”
He added: “We were doing it of our own volition. I’m proud of the steps that we took.”
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