England chose July 4, America’s Independence Day, to lift many coronavirus restrictions, including those on public prayer.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis urged congregations to begin with smaller weekday minyanim, but he made an exception for bar mitzvahs. Thus, Liverpool’s Childwall Hebrew Congregation hosted 27 people this past Shabbos for the bar mitzvah of Adam Jacobson.
His mother, Tanya Jacobson, told The Jewish Press, “It was all a bit surreal. I was staring at my son with a mask on the bimah. I looked around the shul. There were socially distanced people in masks. It felt like in some sci-fi movie.”
But, she said, the “whole family felt like July 4 was meant to be the day that Adam should be on the bimah. Anything other than that date wouldn’t have felt the same.”
Other shuls that hosted bar mitzvahs were London’s Hadley Wood Synagogue and London’s Hampstead Garden Synagogue, which erected Perspex screens around the bimah. Roughly 100 guests attended the latter bar mitzvah.
Adam Walker, a gabbai at Vine St Shul, which is independent from the United Synagogue and had nearly 50 people at two Shabbat minyanim, told The Jewish Press:
“We had an organization in place to open as soon as legally possible, with social distancing, reduced numbers, and wearing masks on the bimah. It worked very well. People recognized all the challenges and kept to a one-way system for entry and exit. Any schmoozing was in the car park and not in the building.”
He said, though, “Some of our members were not happy. It was a stressful time for the executive.”
Kevin Feddy, president of Manchester’s Holy Law Hebrew Congregation, told The Jewish Press, “We are fortunate to have a large shul which can easily accommodate worshippers.”
Meanwhile, Manchester’s Beenstock Home organized its first minyan since the lockdown on Monday so 90-year-old Hyman Smith could say Kaddish for his mother. Smith told The Jewish Press, “It’s the first time I have davened in a minyan for three months. It was really special for my mother’s yahrzeit.”
Odds & Ends
Lubavitch primary schools in London’s Stamford Hill closed on Monday after a girl tested positive for Covid-19.
Last week, police broke up an illegal charedi wedding in a warehouse on London’s Elstree. Weddings, with a maximum of 30 people, have only been permitted since July 4.