The Covid-19 coordinator for London’s strictly Orthodox community centred on Stamford Hill has urged members to “keep up the sacrifices” in a welcome tone change from his comments two months ago.
Writing in the latest community newsletter, Rabbi Yossi Teitelbaum urged matchmakers to delay meet-ups where possible, and for shuls to determine – and stick to – maximum capacities as determined by a Covid risk assessment.
“If more people than allowed show up, such as for a simcha [celebration], it becomes impossible to follow government guidelines and the gabaim [leadership] are liable to suffer the consequences. The gabaim are pleading with you to take it seriously!”
He added: “Please do not go after davening [praying] from shul to shul. Should you want to take part in a close relatives simcha in shul, please check with gabaim of that particular shul about attending the entire davening.”
Teitelbaum was criticised for his December advice, which barristers said was “riddled with errors” and designed to “get around” national Covid restrictions. Its hostile tone and unfounded allegations of illegality against the police, caused widespread upset far beyond Stamford Hill.
However, in what appears to be a welcome change of approach, he this week urged strictly Orthodox Jews to extend their mask wearing and treat the virus as deadly.
“Those who can wear a mask on the road wherever they go will do a big kiddush Hashem [holy deed],” he said. “The importance of wearing a mask while shopping cannot be emphasised enough!”
Referring to the Jewish Chronicle, he said: “Random passersby have photographed clusters of shoppers without masks and have plastered it on the front page of their newspapers. We are giving the news too many reasons to be busy with us!”
Strictly Orthodox leaders are currently working on agreed guidance for families ahead of this year’s upcoming festival of Purim, which proved so devastating to community infection rates last year. Many feel an earlier Government lockdown would have saved dozens of Jewish lives.
Ideas being floated are a ban on the eponymous open-top lorries that typically carry parting youngsters through the streets, as well as a ban on children visiting the homes of teachers to give them gifts.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.