Jewish groups welcome news that Shuls can reopen when lockdown lifted

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Jewish groups welcome news that Shuls can reopen when lockdown lifted

Chief Rabbi Mirvis says the recommencing of congregational worship will be 'widely welcomed by people of all faiths'

Mill Hill United synagogue under Covid restrictions, including social distancing and masks (Credit: Marc Morris)
Mill Hill United synagogue under Covid restrictions, including social distancing and masks (Credit: Marc Morris)

The Chief Rabbi and major Jewish groups this week welcomed news that synagogues will stay open in England even in the strictest Covid-19 lockdown tiers when the new system kicks in on 3 December.

Cheering the government’s announcement alongside Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis were the United Synagogue and the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, which together represent more than 150 English synagogues and communities.

A spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations said: “We are thankful to the government for allowing public worship to commence.

“As we stated in our recent letter to the Secretary of State for Communities Robert Jenrick MP, collective worship is pivotal to our way of life and religious existence. We are glad that this was taken into consideration.”

A spokeswoman for the United Synagogue said the organisation was “delighted” with the news that services will be held once the latest lockdown lifts.

“We expect that services will resume following the same careful restrictions we have had in place for some months, including masks and social distancing,” said communities director Jo Grose.

“We also look forward to resuming other aspects of community life in a Covid-compliant manner. In particular, we are exploring creative ways in which communities can come together outdoors.

“Of course, much of the detail depends on the Tier level in each area. We look forward to hearing what the government will announce and will be sharing updated United Synagogue guidance in the coming days.”

The government’s three-tiered winter strategy of local restrictions will allow congregational worship at churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples, regardless of which tier they are in, albeit on condition that worship is Covid-compliant.

Health Minister Nadine Dorries urged caution, saying: “Confined spaces, multiple households, limited ventilation, and people raising their voices are all known to be risk factors when spreading Covid-19.” She added that Public Health England (PHE) was researching links between public worship and outbreaks of coronavirus.

But Mirvis said news of shuls reopening “will be widely welcomed by people of all faiths,” adding: “I am grateful to the government for their work with us on this issue.”

Rabbi Charley Baginsky of Liberal Judaism said their communities were autonomous and would make their own arrangements depending on their demographic local tiers. “We have been doing training and facilitating discussions on hybrid services, so that all of our communities feel as prepared as possible,” she said.

Board of Deputies’ president Marie van der Zyl welcomed the decision. “We have been in dialogue with the government and PHE about the data around places of worship,” she said.

“It is our understanding that where faith premises have made sure to meticulously observe social distancing regulations, there has been a minimal number of outbreaks associated with communal worship.”

She added: “While this is positive news, we continue to remind people to take great care in observing health guidelines, so we can all play our part to stop the spread and save lives.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: