Dear Fellow Congregants,
With considerable reluctance, but bowing to what has clearly become inevitable, I am writing to inform you that the Office of the Chief Rabbi has today issued halachic guidance to the effect that Orthodox Synagogues throughout the United Kingdom should suspend their prayer services and all other public communal activities in light of the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the Coronavirus. This is similar to the approach being taken by the leaders of the other Abrahamic faiths in the United Kingdom.
As a consequence, please be aware that with effect from this weekend, the Park Row Synagogue will be closed; the Sabbath morning service this Saturday is cancelled, and no services or communal events will take place there until further notice.
Difficult as it is to contemplate, congregants are also asked to refrain from organising, however informally, any minyanim or groups of any kind to say prayers or celebrate religious occasions in private homes. Further halachic guidance and detailed suggestions, and notably on observance in these circumstances of the Festival of Pesach, which is not far off, will be sent in the coming days by Rabbi Mendy Singer, but in essence, the Chief Rabbi’s guidance is that prayers can always be recited on an individual basis at home.
I will inform you when it is deemed safe to re-open our shul for prayer services and other communal events, but you will appreciate that at present it is completely impossible to predict when that will happen: it will be weeks at least, more likely months.
We have all been taken aback by the speed and virulence with which this new virus has extended its grip on life in this country, as in many others. By exercising the greatest care and caution, and heeding the advice of the Government and Public Health authorities, we can hope to return to a more normal existence as soon as possible. Help will be made available in the coming days, within the community, to those who are in need of it.
In closing, on behalf of the Honorary Officers and Council of the Congregation, I would like to wish all those who are indisposed a refuah shleimah; and, to those who have Yohrtzeit or are bereaved, I wish you a long life and freedom from further sorrow.
And may we all, as well as all our loved ones, come through this difficult time and emerge strong and in good health.
With best wishes to you all,
President, Bristol Hebrew Congregation