Michael Gove hailed the community as “a light shining in this darkness” and thank those on the frontline of the virus in a video message on Friday.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster addressed tens of thousands of homes at a virtual shabbaton on Friday, organised by Mizrachi UK in partnership with United Synagogue.
“I want to applaud this initiative … Chief Rabbi [Ephraim Mirvis] and everyone else involved,” Gove said about the virtual Shabbaton, thanking “those members of the UK Jewish community who are serving on the frontline in our NHS and doing so much to help us in the response to this virus.”
“The jewish community is a light shining in this darkness, and I wanted to thank you all for the solidarity that you’ve shown and the values that your community exemplify,” he said.
Members of 50 congregations are set to tune in at 5.30pm to listen to a live performance by the music star Yaakov Shwekey on Friday evening and a pre-Shabbat address led by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
As part of the online Shabbaton, the former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was joined by Chazan Jonny Turgel at 9pm on Saturday for a Havdalah.
“Never before have so many people been at home for Shabbat, without shul and community, we want to make those 25 hours as enjoyable and inspirational as possible, linking everyone together, so that no Jew should feel in isolation,” said the CEO of Mizrachi UK, Rabbi Andrew Shaw.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Michael Laitner, of the United Synagogue’s Jewish living division, said the movement was “delighted” to partner with Mizrachi UK. “We are delighted so many people are taking part across the country,” he said.
“Our synagogues may be closed, but our communities are very much open. We thank our rabbis, rebbetzens and community leaders for embracing this project and making it impactful in their shuls. Have a wonderful Shabbat,” he added.