Message from Rabbi Charley Baginsky on coronavirus (COVID-19)

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12 March 2020

I know that this is a very uncertain time for many people and the level of fear in our community and in the world at large is rising.

I am sure that many of you are considering how to change your behaviours to keep you and your loved ones safe, as well as spending much time contemplating how this may affect our lives for a long while to come.

I have spent much of the last week at Liberal Judaism, with our staff team and Board of National Officers, thinking about our events and any centralised advice we should give to our communities. I am also worried about the impact that ‘isolation’ will have on our society, however necessary it may be, and particularly on those who are elderly and vulnerable.

I would strongly suggest that synagogue communities talk to each other and share good practice and advice in the same way as we at Liberal Judaism are doing with other charities and organisations. The best place for advice is via the Public Health England website.

Liberal Judaism is watching the situation closely and we will advise that if schools close or gatherings are restricted that you follow suit. But we will keep in touch with all of you on a regular basis.

We have taken the sad step of cancelling Machaneh Aviv and all parents with children attending this camp will be contacted by LJY-Netzer shortly. Our Biennial Weekend and summer programmes are still scheduled and we will update you if things change.

All advice tells us that our behaviours can make a difference, including:

  1. Wash your hands well on entering your places of meeting – and print off these signs to remind people https://www.uhb.nhs.uk/Downloads/pdf/HandHygienePoster.pdf
  1. Refrain from hugging, kissing and even shaking hands and try and keep a greater distance from each other than you usually might.
  1. Be vigilant in all food preparation and wear gloves, even when cutting the challah (do not tear).
  1. If anyone has returned from travelling to any of these countries, or appears unwell, kindly ask them to leave for the sake of others and direct them to online services. Many synagogues in the UK offer these and they are open to all. Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue stream their services at https://www.npls.org.uk/live-services and on their Facebook page.
  1. If you feel unwell, or if you are worried about being in a public space, then please also use online services. Do not risk yourself or others.

We have a collective responsibility to think about those in our community who might need us and might feel worried and alone more than ever now.

Use this opportunity to pick up the phone, better still a video call, arrange WhatsApp groups and virtual coffee mornings. If you have spare devices you can share with members who may not have one then please think about doing that – once you have disinfected it of course!

We will circulate, over the next week, some really good online resources for study, communication and even laughter. There is no way that we will have thought of everything. If you have ideas or things that are worth sharing please get in touch with me on c.baginsky@liberaljudaism.org.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky
Liberal Judaism Director of Strategy and Partnerships

 

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