Trustees are conscious of the constantly developing news around Covid-19 and can imagine that for some of our members the virus is causing concern. Along with the Rabbi, we had a long and informed discussion about how to respond at last night's board meeting.
Each week on Shabbat we say a special prayer asking God to bless the Queen and: "...to guide the government of this country". The advice we are receiving, specifically as a faith community (and in conjunction with other faith communities) follows, effectively, the advice the government is giving as part of their plan to control, as best as possible, the spread of the virus.
There is a responsibility on us to ensure that we both adhere this advice and make sure that, as far as possible, those in our community affected by the virus, are looked after. To this end we have made some changes in our practice eg the challah on Shabbat is not torn apart by people and handed out to others; it is sliced in the kitchen. Responsibility also falls on each one of us with our hygiene. So, for example, some people have chosen not to shake hands, hug or kiss when greeting one another.
We are taking daily advice on how best to adapt life at Sinai to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. This is alongside making sure that life at Sinai can continue and flourish. Anyone who was able to attend the Purim party on Monday evening this week will attest to that.
At this stage, following the formal, considered and expert advice from Public Health England (PHE) we are not planning to stop regular services at shul. In addition, we are still working towards holding the communal Seder, whilst keeping a close eye on developments and advice, from both PHE, the government and colleagues within other synagogues and faith communities. We appreciate that some people may wish, at this time, to self exclude themselves from these or other public events. All we would ask is that you give us as much notice as possible if you have booked to attend an event, and now don't wish to. This will allow the organisers to make the necessary changes to plans for them.
For the Rabbi's induction we want to ensure that this event is celebrated and enjoyed fully - by everyone! This is a pivotal moment in Sinai's life and history as we formally induct Rabbi Strasko, who, we hope, will be here for many years, if not decades, to come.
Right now, the Rabbi and Trustees agree that this is the wrong atmosphere in which to hold this celebration. Many people will be travelling from across the country, if not further, to attend and may now feel unable to do this. Members either self-excluding or having to remain in self-isolation, would not be able to attend. The conversation on the day, and in the run-up to, will be dominated not by this wonderful celebration, but discussions about mitigation.
As such, the Trustees and Rabbi have made the decision to postpone the induction. Whilst disappointing, it was taken to ensure the event can be celebrated in the future with the joy, ruach and pleasure it rightly should.
This is a time when family and community can really shine through. The Rabbi and Trustees have plans in place for how life and community in Sinai will carry on irrespective of how Covid-19 impacts the UK. If you wish to be involved in helping this happen, contact us any way you wish (email
David J Israel
Chair, Sinai Synagogue