As part of our commitment to keeping our communities open, we are running RJ Communities TV, our interactive broadcasting platform for these challenging times. Please scroll down to see the full list of information available.
An online version of the Reform Judaism siddur, Forms of Prayer, can now be found by clicking here.
We are alongside all of our communities throughout this difficult and unprecedented time. Please see the menu headings below for details of everything we are doing. If something is missing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information and communication
We recognise that clarity and accuracy are primary in communicating during the current health crisis. Here is our communication to all our members and here are our latest guidelines for re-opening our buildings, along with a template risk assessment.
In addition to regularly checking government advice, The following Reform Judaism channels can help you to stay up-to-date with information, advice and conversations around best practice:
– We are holding weekly online (using Zoom) meetings every Wednesday evening at 20.00. These will be used to share ideas, answer questions and disseminate key messages. You can join the meetings here: https://zoom.us/j/390604411
– We are sending updates before Shabbat each week, which will contain a summary of the Wednesday meetings and any other relevant updates. You can sign up for the newsletter here: https://bit.ly/2UersMw
– To join online conversations about coronavirus, please join the online group on Yammer. You can sign up here: https://www.yammer.com/rjonline/#/home
– We are inviting everyone coordinating Communities that Care Initiative work in their community to a Networking Meeting via Zoom, every Friday at 11.00am. This is a forum for people to share your responses, ask questions and to support each other. Please follow this link to join all the meetings: https://zoom.us/j/692270294
– We have made available a “Zoom” account, that can be used by any of our communities. It is an excellent tool for holding online meetings. However, it can only be used for one meeting at a time, and must be booked in advance. To book the Zoom account for a meeting, please send details to Sonia: Sonia.email@example.com.
Mental Health and Emotional Support
Reform Communities are doing an excellent job of providing emotional support at this time.
There is more information about other organisations, as well as what Reform Judaism can offer here.
We appreciate the generous offers of mental health professionals and Rabbis to offer support for people with more significant needs – if you would like to join this small team, please sign up here
If you have any questions about mental health services and need some advice for your community at this time, please email our Communities that Care team: CareInitiative@rjuk.org
We are inviting everyone coordinating Communities that Care Initiative work in their community to a Networking Meeting via Zoom, every Friday at 11.00am. This is a forum for people to share your responses, ask questions and to support each other. Please follow this link to join all the meetings: https://zoom.us/j/692270294
Synagogues and Streaming Services
Click here to find full information and links for all of our synagogues that are streaming their services online.
The government has stated that all places of worship must close. The only services permitted are funerals, and you should follow the guidance for “when someone dies” in the drop down box below.
Even without gatherings, our synagogues are continuing to serve our members. It may currently be more important than ever that we do so.
We are using these pages to share innovative ideas as we hear about them from our communities. In the meantime, streaming services is an excellent way to engage people safely.
RJ Communities TV - Online Community from Reform Judaism
RJ:TV is our interactive broadcasting platform for these challenging times. Each day we will provide a range of interactive programming that you are invited to join – from daily prayer services and adult learning sessions to fun for all ages and casual catch-ups. Whilst physical events and activities at our synagogues have been postponed, we can still come together virtually to share in learning and meaningful interaction.
As this unprecedented health crisis continues, we will update this section with advice relating to different aspects of Jewish practice. For death please see the section ‘when someone dies’
An online version of the Reform Judaism siddur, Forms of Prayer, can be found by clicking here..
If you have questions about religious practice at this challenging time, please email Reform Judaism’s Senior Rabbi, Laura Janner-Klausner: firstname.lastname@example.org. We particularly encourage those from communities without a rabbi/cantor to be in touch.
Youth: RSY-Netzer, Chederim and Resources
We have compiled a series of resources to entertain and educate children and young people at home.
If you aren’t already subscribed, a wide variety of online educational resources are shared every week in our email for educators, which you can sign up to here.
Here are some great ideas from our friends in the United States, including how to teach the Torah portion and about Jewish festivals.
Jewish Interactive has prepared a portal with 100s of free online resources for you to use when teaching online or in class. This will be updated weekly with new content.
Many children in our chedarim up to the age of 8 will have been receiving PJ Library books. You may want to read a story and use their online resources to teach about the values embedded in the stories: https://pjlibrary.org/beyond-books/educators-center
There are lots of online videos and songs available. Reliable resources include Shaboom, and there are specifically Reform resources available to support the videos here: https://reformjudaism.org/tags/shaboom.
Online Safeguarding Guidance
Our communities have responded brilliantly to the challenges we are currently facing. Activities are now taking place online, with quality education and Jewish engagement still accessible to our members and others. However, it’s important to remember that safeguarding must still be considered for online activities, just as you would consider such issues for in-person gatherings.
To help with this, we are attaching the documentation used by RSY-Netzer – this can be used/adapted by communities running activities. Please note, the codes of conduct are based on those we use for residential events, and therefore it might be more appropriate for communities to adjust their own local policies to cover online working.
We recommend using Zoom rather than social media platforms, as these have age restrictions and some parents prefer their child not to have access to these platforms.
The NSPCC have a huge range of guidance if you would like further information. However, you should find everything you need at the links listed below:
The government has recommended that individuals work from home where possible. Any staff showing any symptoms, no matter how minor, should, in accordance with government advice, isolate themselves at home. This may also be the case for staff who believe they have come into contact with an individual suffering from coronavirus.
The latest government advice for employers and employees can be found here.
Mental Health First Aid England has resources for individuals and teams working from home: https://mhfaengland.org/my-whole-self/.
We have collated opportunities for funding some of the new virtual activity that our communities will be engaging in. Click here to find out more.
With some already self-isolating and with large numbers expecting to do so in the near future, volunteers will play a key role in supporting vulnerable individuals. Tasks such as delivering shopping, helping with technology or simply providing a daily check-in phone call all depend on volunteers. It is a good idea to start gathering volunteers’ details as soon as you are able.
Covid Mutual Aid has comprehensive resources and ideas for local community groups.
The latest government guidance on home care guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance
Note the latest guidance on GDPR and the coronavirus from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
If you need to contact a large number of people in an efficient and coordinated manner, a phone tree is a useful way to organise this.
When someone dies
The Reform Judaism prayer book for funerals can be found here.
The Reform Judaism prayer book for shiva can be found here.
A special prayer has been composed for attending a funeral remotely by Rabbi Paul Freedman, which can be accessed here.
Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu has shared a letter with thoughts for marking the Yahrzeit (anniversary of a death) of a loved one in the current circumstances here.
Latest advice about funerals
From the Jewish Joint Burial Society (JJBS) – updated 21/4/2020
We continue to maintain that in accordance with Jewish Practice, the health of the living is of primary importance.
The attendance of mourners at funerals held under the JJBS auspices continues to be prohibited whilst lockdown continues. We understand that this may cause distress but it is with the advice of the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors of both the Liberal and Reform movements and is to fully protect both Rabbis and our staff.
The grounds continue to remain closed to visitors at this time.
Funeral services will continue to be made available through a variety of systems. Most are via the Zoom app. We understand that many Shiva’s have been conducted through this system as well.
Whilst there can be no Tahara at present due to potential infection, the normal Tahara prayers will be said.
No stone settings are able to take place.
When the restrictions are lifted we will, in accordance with advice from the Government and other sources, advise how we intend to allow visitors, mourners and families to visit the grounds. It is our intention that mourners will have the opportunity to place a small amount of earth on the grave of their loved one to complete the filling in process. We hope that we will be allowed to hold memorial services but we will follow advice.
Whilst we appreciate that the actions we are taking are difficult for the mourners, we appreciate the work and effort of all our staff and will not tolerate any verbal abuse of them in the course of their duties.
In the event that no clergy are available
Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner has made videos with a short introduction to how to lead a funeral service or how to lead shiva prayers in the event that there is no clergy are available at this time. [Update 26th March: clearly, the advice in these how-to videos is out of date, however the advice within them may be useful for those running services remotely]
As part of our Advanced Service Leaders course, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner delivered a session on leading funerals and Shivah prayers. A recording of the session can be watched here.
If you have any questions at all about any of the processes surrounding the passing of a loved one, please email our Senior Rabbi, Laura Janner-Klausner, at email@example.com. She will be pleased to help you through this difficult time.