United Synagogue fights to preserve Jewish life as virus brings UK to standstill
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United Synagogue fights to preserve Jewish life as virus brings UK to standstill

Many community rabbis are live-streaming their services, while all talks and programmes are uploaded online

Tribe’s Barry Coleman helps pack the United Synagogue Pesach food parcels for community members in need
Tribe’s Barry Coleman helps pack the United Synagogue Pesach food parcels for community members in need

The coronavirus crisis has brought much of the UK to a standstill, but United Synagogue are doing what they can to preserve Jewish life.

From putting together Pesach kits containing seder plates, educational material and a three-course meal for those in isolation, to setting up a coronavirus helpline, the movement, which closed all its shuls last week, has come up with new ways to bring members together during the pandemic.

Many community rabbis are live-streaming their services, while all talks and programmes are led online. The movement, which is conducting webinars for members ahead of Pesach, plans to upload new content in the coming weeks.

More than 8,000 people tuned in to watch a kabbalat shabbat service broadcast on Facebook Live last week. This Friday at 5.10pm, Rabbi Bentzi Mann, of the Mill Hill East Jewish Community, will be leading an “uplifting service”, available to watch online.

Its youth department, Tribe, is uploading material on Facebook amid school closures – including a matzah baking video and weekly story-telling sessions with Rabbi Eli Levin on Thursdays at 5pm.

Over 100 members have already used the movement’s new coronavirus helpline, open Monday to Thursday, from 9am to 5pm, and on Friday from 9am to 1pm.

The helpline, which can be reached on 020 8343 5696, was set up to provide emotional support to callers, assist them with their shopping or medicine collection, and offer rabbinical advice to those seeking it.

“The response to the coronavirus crisis has been inspiring: hundreds of people, from across our communities, have put their own personal needs second to help those who require more urgent support,” said the movement’s communications director Richard Verber.

“Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to fight this crisis and helped someone feel part of the wider Jewish family,” he added.

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