Police were called to a Lag Ba’Omer bonfire in Salford where participants were breaching social distancing rules. The police dispersed the assembled, who then reconvened and continued to celebrate around the corner.
Lag Ba’Omer social distancing breachings were also seen in Manchester’s Prestwich and London’s Stamford Hill neighborhoods.
Rabbi Dovid Eisenberg of Manchester Beth Din said, “The Torah places the ultimate value on each individual’s life…. There is also the obligation to follow the law of the land. How much more so is that the case when that law is also one of pikuach nefesh.”
The Stamford Hill Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations rabbinate said, “We are deeply concerned that after two months of lockdown some have started to be lax in observing the guidance. It is absolutely incumbent on everyone to continue to follow government rules.”
Rabbis Eye Reopening Of Shuls With Caution
The re-opening of shuls must be done with “extreme caution,” said Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
On Friday, Rabbi Mirvis attended a virtual meeting of the government’s Places of Worship Taskforce about easing religious restrictions, which are not expected to take place before July 4. Rabbi Mirvis asked for priority to be given to weddings and stone settings.
Meanwhile, the rabbi of London’s Modern Orthodox Ner Yisrael shul has sanctioned outdoor minyanim under strict conditions.
Rabbi Eliezer Zobin said participants must remain in their own gardens and that they should gain permission from their neighbors. Anyone displaying symptoms must not attend. Furthermore, minyanim may not take place in communal gardens or public places and services must end if it rains; they cannot move indoors.
Many Schools Not Ready To Open
Jewish schools are concerned about re-opening schools on June 1, the current date set by the government.
North Cheshire Jewish Primary School head Michael Wolf said, “We need to make sure children and all staff are kept safe and that everything possible can be done to reduce risk. Also, we need to know the risk to parents and the wider community.”
London’s Hasmonean Primary School head Dr. Alan Shaw said, “Younger children cannot socially distance and will not understand why they cannot play with their friends or go to their teachers.”
The government has mandated a maximum class size of 15 with social distancing measures in place.
But Shaw said, “Many schools do not have classrooms that are wide enough to sit even 15 children at a distance of two meters apart – or corridors that are wide enough for social distancing.”
Government Confirms: LGBT Instruction Is Not Compulsory
Minister for school Baroness Berridge confirmed in the House of Lords that teaching of LGBT issues in primary schools is not compulsory.
She was responding to a question from Lord Polak, who is Jewish, after earlier this year two Jewish Gateshead primary schools were downgraded by Ofsted for failing to teach these matters.
Lord Polak asked the baroness to confirm that “Ofsted will inspect in line with Department of Education policy and not their own self-generated policies and that primary schools will not be penalized if they do not teach LGBT according to the wishes of the parents.”
The baroness did so.
Chinuch UK chairman David Landau told The Jewish Press, “We will be calling it out in public. They can’t be allowed to keep getting away with it.