United Synagogue unveils kiddush talking ban
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United Synagogue unveils kiddush talking ban

Controversial new Shabbat morning policy asks members to not converse for the first five minutes

The idea of asking Jews not to talk may strike some as brave, but the United Synagogue is giving it a go this week, launching its new Kiddush “talking ban”.

Unveiling its new Shabbat morning Kiddush policy, the US said it was asking members not to talk for the first five minutes.

Officials said the “controversial” idea came from a US member and is designed to let everyone eat and drink after the service “without worrying that they’re being rude to fellow congregants by not saying Shabbat Shalom or asking how each other is”.

Although the United Synagogue has suggested a five-minute chat amnesty, shuls can decide whether a longer or shorter period is appropriate for them. Communities are also free to decide how the new approach will be policed.

Rabbis, Rebbetzens and Synagogue Chairs were informed of the new policy this week by Rabbinical Council chair Rabbi Nicky Liss, who said a three-week trial was set to begin after Purim in the run up to Pesach.

If successful, the talking ban will be extended to all events in US shuls, including wedding receptions and bar and bat mitzvahs.

The idea came from Adalia Dalfon who fled Iran’s regime. He said: “I am so glad they listened to my feedback. I am sick and tired of people talking to me at Kiddush when I’ve got half a fish ball in my mouth.

“I love catching up with my friends, but at least let me have something to eat first. I’ve just sat through the Rabbi’s fifteen-minute sermon – surely having a whisky in peace for a few minutes is the least I deserve.”

US chief executive Steven Wilson said: “There was an unfortunate incident recently when a piece of herring got stuck in the throat of one of our assistant Rabbis as he attempted to answer a question about the week’s sedra before swallowing.

He added: “Although some shuls may find it controversial, the new policy does bring us into line with new Government health and safety guidance for running events, and of course with my own mother’s, who taught me not to talk when my mouth was full.”

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