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With the announcement on Saturday that weddings are prohibited under new “Tier 4” restrictions, two United Synagogue couples quickly moved their weddings from Sunday to Motzei Shabbat to evade the ban.

As news broke of the new restrictions shortly after Shabbat, Rabbi Alex Chapper of Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue rushed to arrange a chuppah that evening for Debbie Waterman and James Buckman.

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He said, “The chuppah hadn’t been set up, so the groom brought a tallit to shul, and four of his friends held it on poles.” He added, “It was intimate and special and the bride told me it was magical.”

At Edgware Synagogue, Rabbi David Lister managed to arrange a decorated chuppah by 10 p.m. for Chloe Martin and Jamie Collins.

 

Israel Seals Doors to UK

On Sunday, Israel became one of the first countries in the world to further restrict travel from the UK, as London and South East England moved on Motzei Shabbat into “Tier 4” coronavirus restrictions in wake of the rapid growth of a mutated form of the virus.

All non-Israelis were banned entry into the country. Israelis returning from the UK, meanwhile, were quarantined in coronavirus hotels.

Sorelle Weinstein of Rehovot, who had been visiting family in London for Chanukah, told The Jewish Press of her frustrations with Israel’s government.

She said, “We were all crammed into a poorly ventilated bus like sardines on the way from the airport to Jerusalem’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. People were yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs in anger.” She said she feared she could have contracted the virus on the bus before being quarantined.

Under the Tier 4 new restrictions, UK synagogue services are permitted to remain open as long they comply with government guidelines. One-third of United Synagogues have announced temporary closures nonetheless.

 

Rabbi Permits Traveling on Shabbos to Receive Vaccine

A Leeds rabbi gave a heter for Jewish octogenarians to receive Covid Pfizer BioNTech vaccines last Shabbat if necessary.

Alwoodley Medical Centre, the vaccine hub for the Jewish area of Alwoodley, received its first vaccines, to be administered to citizens over 80, last Shabbat.

Rabbi Shalom Kupperman of Leeds Etz Chaim Synagogue told The Jewish Press, “I made my decision absolutely on the basis of pikuach nefesh. The problem was that once the Covid-19 vaccines had been delivered and taken out of the freezer, they could only be used for a limited amount of time.

“I didn’t feel that it would be possible to interfere with the entire system, telling them to send the vaccines at an earlier or later day in order to accommodate Jewish patients who are a fraction of the other patients. Under those circumstances, that was the decision I came to, which I suggested to all the members of the Leeds Jewish community.”

The rabbi told the Leeds Jewish octogenarians, “If you are contacted to receive the vaccine, it goes without saying that you should take up this offer.”

He advised them to say they were Jewish and ask for an appointment between 5-6 p.m. – Shabbat went out in Leeds at 4:44 p.m. – but added, “If that is not possible, as there are no appointments at that time, you should still have the vaccine, even if it means traveling on Shabbat.”

Jewish patients were advised to ask a non-Jew or a car service before Shabbat for transport to and from the medical center, and pay before or after Shabbat.

 

New Dayan on London Beth Din

Manchester-born Dayan Dovid Englander, who currently sits on Lakewood’s Beis Havaad and Monsey’s Kollel Harabbonim batei din, has been appointed a London Beth Din dayan.

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Doreen Wachmann served as a senior reporter and columnist for Britain’s Jewish Telegraph newspaper for more than 20 years.