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Only 30 shofar blasts should be blown in some communities, and pre- and post-Yom Kippur services can be live-streamed to minimize the risks of coronavirus infection over the Yamim Noraim, according to a new set of guidelines published by the United Synagogue.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has stressed that pikuach nefesh should be a primary consideration and hygiene and social distancing should be strictly enforced.


The “Covid-19 Guidance to Member Communities on Reopening Buildings and Restarting Services” states that youngsters under 12, those over 70, and those with health conditions will be discouraged from attending shul.

Services will be shorter and staggered to enable social distancing. Only the baal tefilla or baal koreh can sing and those carrying the Sefer Torah must wear gloves. Face masks must be worn by all.

On Rosh Hashanah the minimum of 30 shofar blasts should be blown, with the option of multiple blowings, possibly in a park if the public does not object.

Early Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei and Yizkor services can be live-streamed, as can Neilah, Havdalah, and the blowing of the shofar after the fast.


Labour Suspends Members Over Anti-Semitism-Related Charge

The Labour Party, under its new leader Sir Keir Starmer, is beginning to take action against anti-Semitism in its midst.

Last week, four executive members of Liverpool Wavertree Constituency Labour Party (CLP) were suspended after they criticized MP Paula Barker for reaching out to the Jewish community.

Last month, Barker, who replaced Jewish MP Luciana Berger – who resigned over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party – wrote in the Jewish Telegraph of her sorrow at Berger’s exit from the party and said she hoped to repair the relationship between the party and the Jewish community.

CLP chair Nina Houghton, secretary Kevin Bean, women’s officer Helen Dickson, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic officer Hazuan Hashim responded with a statement saying:

“We have to express our disappointment and hurt that someone we campaigned for so wholeheartedly appears to have reiterated the inaccurate and factionally motivated position on anti-Semitism which was used in order to personally attack and seriously undermine Labour’s socialist program during the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.”

Houghton, Bean, Dickson and Hashim have been suspended, pending an investigation.

Former Wavertree councillor and Merseyside Jewish Representative Council vice chair Jeremy Wolfson told The Jewish Press:

“Paula Barker MP has been trying to build bridges with the Jewish community and approached me about meeting Jewish community representatives. The meeting was a tough and frank discussion. Paula is a fantastic MP and should not have been attacked by these members of the Wavertree Labour Party executive for her innocuous Jewish Telegraph article and for reaching out to the Jewish community. Paula’s approach is an example to other Labour MPs.

“It is good to see the Labour Party under its new leader taking anti-Semitism seriously and I welcome the suspension of the four Wavertree CLP members.”

Former Labour MP Louise Ellman told the Jewish Press, “This is a welcome step. I hope it indicates a new direction for the Labour Party.”