Rabbi compares private minyans during lockdown to ‘idol worship’
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Rabbi compares private minyans during lockdown to ‘idol worship’

New West End Synagogue's Rabbi Moshe Freedman told those ignoring advice: 'You think you're praying to God, but you're actually worshipping the minyan, and that is idol worship'

Moshe Freedman
Moshe Freedman

An Orthodox rabbi in the UK has compared attendance of private minyans during virus lockdown to “idol worship”.

His comments come after Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis took the extraordinary step last week to suspend all services in 120 shuls under his auspices, in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Despite this instruction, some have continued to reportedly participate in private minyans  – a quorum of 10 men required for prayer.

Taking to Twitter, Rabbi Moshe Freedman of New West End Synagogue condemned those ignoring advice.

He said: ‘If you have taken part in a private minyan during the lockdown, you will not receive an aliya [call up] in my shul. We cannot offer an honour to idol worshippers. You think you’re praying to God, but you’re actually worshipping the minyan, and that is idol worship.”

After his post was retweeted more than 160 times and received support from numerous Twitter users, he thanked them, but said he was “astonished at the pushback from some – including colleagues.”

He said: “I’m just about to go and pick up the second death certificate for one of my congregants. Another is gravely ill. Please stop debating this and take it seriously. Stay in doors unless you have to go out and pray at home by yourselves.”

Today it was announced that at least 22 British Jews had succumbed to the virus, according to data compiled by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

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