New restrictions and guidance for attending the synagogue for all services

Dear Fellow Congregants,

I hope that this message finds you all keeping as well as possible, and that you had a happy and healthy Festival period this year, in spite of everything.

Having already reopened Park Row Synagogue after a risk assessment for regular shabbes services from 29 August, in full compliance with Government and public health requirements, we ran a complete schedule of yontef services from Erev Rosh Hashanah through to Simchas Torah – thanks in no small part to Rabbi Mendy Singer, who worked enormously hard to make them happen and led almost all the services entirely on his own this year. The services were reasonably well attended in the bizarre circumstances of the pandemic, and were greatly appreciated by all who did attend.

Now that the High Holy Days are over for another year and we are restarting our annual cycle of Torah readings from the beginning, I just wanted to reassure you all that we continue to operate weekly shabbes services on Saturday mornings at Park Row, with all feasible precautions to remain Covid-compliant. We extend a traditional warm and friendly – albeit socially-distanced – Bristol welcome to all members and friends of the Congregation who would like to join us for shul services, and ask only that anyone wishing to come to shul please sign up on the online sheet available at www.jewishbristol.com/parkrow. It is a legal requirement, but only takes a minute to complete, so please do not forget to sign up if you wish to attend a service.

The Covid-safe measures enumerated in my message advising you that services were restarting in August remain in place: there is still plenty of hand sanitiser and spare face masks available (face coverings must be worn while present inside the building), a clearly marked one-way system is in operation for circulating around the main prayer hall and the vestibules, seating is marked so as to maintain social distancing (members of the same family or “bubble” can of course sit together) and there is a portable transparent screen on the bimah to ensure that persons given an aliyah do not come into physical contact with the Torah scrolls, and also for their own protection and that of the person doing the leyning.

Services are curtailed from their normal length, with various prayers omitted in accordance with guidance from the Office of the Chief Rabbi. Shabbes services commence at 10.30am on Saturdays (starting from “Shochen Ad”) and we ask attendees to please be as punctual as possible in order to ensure a minyan from the start. Weather permitting, we continue to hold an exuberant and sociable Kiddush after the service, with individually wrapped food items and plastic cups for drinks.

Finally, if you need a special reason to attend this Saturday – Shabbes Bereishis – I will be supplying a rather fine bottle of Scotch whisky (The Glenlivet, if you must know before making up your minds) to thank the Congregation for giving me the great honour of being Chatan Torah on Simchas Torah last Sunday.

Hoping to see as many of you as possible in our beautiful shul over the coming weeks, and with best wishes,

David Turns

President, Bristol Hebrew Congregation