Framework for The Return to Attended In-Building Services

Synagogues have been allowed to remain open for attendance during this most recent lockdown, though we took the decision to go virtual-only in December 2020.

With infection rates declining, and with regard to the high levels of vaccination among the most at-risk members of our community, we now is the time to re-open for attended services.

The first attended service shall be on Friday 12th March and we very much hope to remain open for attended services from then on, subject clearly to government regulation, infection levels and best medical and public health advice.

What protocols do we use at this stage?

This is not the time to relax the protocols that were in place during the attended services held in autumn and early December 2020. In particular all distance, singing, mask-use and temperature-taking protocols will need to remain in place. On an ongoing basis, the Synagogue’s COVID protocols are posted here. We keep protocols continually under review, in line with best practice and Government recommendations and regulations. In particular, we expect to review these protocols in line with Government announced transitions from one Step to the next over the coming months (Step 2 begins ‘no earlier than 12th April’).

What should that service look and sound like in terms of both content (we’ve been holding very short services, with very limited Torah reading) and leadership (we’ve been having both Rabbis and Chazan singing together and co-leading liturgical elements?

The short-streamed services and the mixed leadership that have been a feature of lockdown have been warmly welcomed but that has all been on an emergency-measures basis. Any ‘substantive’ change to the rites and rituals of the community are a matter, ultimately, for a General Meeting. At a meeting of Council on Monday 1st March it was decided that all elements of services at this time should be considered still to be emergency and experimental and and questions as to substantive long-term change shall be put to the Annual General Meeting to be held in June or July of this year.

What do we do about our digital provision?

Our streamed services, Cheder and Digital educational and social offerings have proved enormously popular over the past year. At this time we can announce that we will;

  • Stream all Shabbat and YT services to using our ‘set and forget’ system at least until the General Meeting this summer (see above). We will attempt to place cameras in ways that minimally interfere with the experience of those attending.
  • Stream all Daily Shacharit services on Zoom only into the long-term, perhaps to be accompanied with attended service on Sundays and Rosh Chodesh.
  • Offer all regular educational and social offerings on Zoom & FB only at least until Step 4 (not before 20th June); to include weekly Salons, Rabbi Jeremy and Rabbi Natasha’s weekly classes and the weekly Year 8 BM class.
  • Cheder will continue on Zoom-only at least until the end of the Pesach term. A survey parents will assess interest in retaining digital or returning to the building for the summer term.
  • We warmly look forward to a return to in person social celebration at the Synagogue – literally a place of coming together. But this is not, yet, that time.