Our shuls are our lifeline
The news synagogues will be shutting or have already shut to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus is totally understandable, but also very distressing.
As we all know, a synagogue is not just somewhere to pray. It is a place of community, where people come to be with others to chat, to commiserate, to provide advice and to find a place of solace among others.
They are community centres, offering talks and groups for those of all ages, and provide a lifeline for those who are sick, elderly and alone.
I understand synagogues are following government advice, but perhaps they could seek to reassure the more vulnerable members of our community.
Shutting ourselves off to stem the spread will inevitably increase the sense of isolation of some members, with the knock-on effect of mental health issues.
Some synagogues call members ahead of Pesach to ask if there’s anything they need or if they have
a seder to attend, so this would be a good thing for all synagogues to do now and check people have enough food and essential supplies.
Let’s extend the hand of friendship and help those around us.
Alice Marshall, By email
For some, shuls closing is going to be a truly hellish experience
There are people for whom social isolation presents a big psychological risk. It’s very alarming.
For God’s sake. Shab- bat has been cancelled. Has this ever, ever hap- pened before? Let’s be generous and exclude times where a genocidal maniac has made attend- ing synagogue a bit tricky.
This is the death of religion and the death of community.
For some of us, it’s going to be a truly hellish experience. I just hope it’s worth it.
Name supplied, By email
Politicising virus is wrong
Your regular columnist, Jenni Frazer, seems to have politicised the virus by choosing to attack Trump. Johnson, Netanyahu and, most disgracefully, Priti Patel (Jewish News, 12 March 2020).
Martin Greenberg Redbridge
Leaders must step up
What are our community leaders doing to guide us on the current situation? There seems to be very little happening.
Religious buildings are being forced to close. What is the community doing to create an infra- structure using technolo- gy and tools? For exam- ple, the Jewish Learning Exchange has closed its building, but is setting up virtual activities.
Above all, people need reassurance… Chabad in Finchley sent a simple but wonderful email just to say we are here for you spiritually and physically.
What about seders and Pesach? Right now there should not be any groups getting together let alone for several hours over two nights.
The community leaders need to get this message out now.
Adam Bezeli, By email
Vatican archive opening
I was extremely interested to read your story about the Vatican opening its archives early (Jewish News, 5 March 2020).
Many people have long accused the wartime pope, Pius XII, of turning a blind eye in the face of the hor- rors of the Second World War and subsequent attempted genocide of the Jewish people.
Others believe he will be largely exonerated, having worked behind the scenes to help in the moral fight.
We will soon be able to find out the truth from the contemporaneous records.
Paul Jacobs, By email