Statement on the opening of synagogues and buildings

20 July 2021 – 11 Av 5781

Statement from The Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors (CoLRaC):

This week, the Government has lifted many of its coronavirus restrictions.

It’s not over yet, but we have been catapulted into a new moment. This is a new phase where we must, as rabbis and leaders of communities, take the initiative to ensure safe and thoughtful plans are put in place.

We are all guided by similar principles, no matter the individual rules and regulations implemented by individual congregations. Decisions will be taken according to the size of our synagogue and other buildings, access to ventilation and for those without their own ‘homes’ whether gathering at all for prayer feels appropriate yet.

Together with Masorti and Reform movements we have been working with the idea of value led guidance, of impact not just risk.

We know we have been through what is known as an extraordinary moment. We have all been through it, together as a movement, in our congregations and individually. Our efforts to move swiftly and slickly on line have been supported by the heroic efforts of Leo Mindel and Jon Fiber who have done so much to raise the quality and easy access of online services across Liberal Judaism. Many of our congregations, as well as movement wide events have been enabled by them.

We have learned much and will take this forward into hybrid services and with new skills improving services and community access.

We now look towards our High Holy Days services. Last year feedback suggested we managed well with our online services, so new to so many. This year many communities will offer opportunities to attend in person, with limited numbers alongside online access. We know how meaningful the High Holy Days are for so many, and how needed they are as we experience another New Year with uncertain times ahead. Please know how diligently and devotedly CoLRaC and lay leaders are working to ensure the quality and safety of all our services. We will continue be inventive, creative and dedicated.

These following principles have informed and inspired many of us:

    • Pikuach Nefesh – ‘Saving a Life’. This has permeated so much of what we have done these past 17 months. The safety and wellbeing of our members has been the priority. This principle continues to guide us and perhaps now with a more expansive understanding of what ‘life’ means and the quality of it. To that end many of our synagogues are moving forward with hybrid services, continuing online and welcoming careful numbers into our buildings. All this is part of preserving life. (We have read that it is not singing per se that spreads infection but the volume of voices. Low singing behind masks may be permitted in some congregations).
    • Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Bazeh – ‘We Are Responsible for One Another’. We will continue to pay attention to the safest and most thoughtful ways we can gather. Masks are still recommended in most of our synagogues, along with social distancing and careful assessment of numbers gathered in our sanctuaries. Many still abiding by the 1metre + rule as well as facemasks. We see it as our responsibility to keep each other safe, and to consider each other’s needs alongside our own.
    • Hesed – ‘Profound Love and Kindness’. This will be a time of diverse views and responses to the relaxing of restriction nationally, whilst cases of the Delta variant continue to rise. We hope that hesed; kindness will inform our conversations and decision making as communities within Liberal Judaism so we continue in a supportive and collaborative way.
    • Savlanut – ‘Patience’. We know that many of our members have waited a long time to be back in a synagogue to pray together. For some, the online opportunities cannot cannot make up for the energetic spirituality of meeting in person. But we must plan for these meetings with caution and care.


Share this Post