Freedom Day: Masks could go at United Synagogue shuls under new guidelines
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Freedom Day: Masks could go at United Synagogue shuls under new guidelines

Rabbis have been told shul-goers should socially distance and wear masks if they cannot, under new rules from United Synagogue leaders.

Synagogue service under lockdown in the early stages of the pandemic (Marc Morris Photography)
Synagogue service under lockdown in the early stages of the pandemic (Marc Morris Photography)

Masks could be dropped at some United Synagogue shuls from Monday, under a new policy, as long as social distancing can be maintained.

In rules sent to shul leaders yesterday, the movement said a distance of at least 1m must be maintained, or masks must be worn – although it recommends keeping distance even if masks are worn as good practice.

The guidelines set out a number of rules, which all shuls in the movement have been ordered to follow, but leaves much up to rabbis to decide for themselves, including on whether to have “mask only” zones in synagogue.

In an email to rabbis, communities director Jo Grose, said: “Whilst we are excited to begin to return to normal communal life, we are mindful that Covid will be with us for the foreseeable future and that the current infection rate is high. Consequently, we must proceed with caution.”

Among the rules sent to shuls include forbidding the use of shared objects during kiddush and the use of indoor air conditioning where there is no fresh air from outside. Synagogues are being ordered to ensure good ventilation at all times.

Recommendations, which can be adapted by rabbis to suit the needs of their synagogue, include a suggestion to introduce a ‘Covid pass’ for simchas, where attendees would have to demonstrate either a negative test or vaccination status before being allowed to attend.

Rabbis are also being advised to discourage physical greetings, such as hugs or handshakes, and to make sure no-one attends services if they feel unwell.

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