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We will be updating and expanding these pages daily and more content will be appearing over the coming days and weeks. 

Last update: 30th March 2020, 12:00

As part of our commitment to keeping our communities open, we are running RJ:TV, our interactive broadcasting platform for these challenging times. Please scroll down to see the full list of information available.

RSY-Netzer have temporarily transformed themselves into Remote Synagogue Youth. Our fantastic youth team have created an exciting programme of online activities to engage child/ren in year groups 1-11 for a few hours each day (Monday-Friday). Full details here.

An online version of the Reform Judaism siddur, Forms of Prayer, can now be found by clicking here.

The Reform Judaism Haggadah is now online.

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 sarita@rjuk.org

Information and communication

We recognise that clarity and accuracy are primary in communicating during the current health crisis. Here is our latest communication to all our members.

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

This is our message to members on 19th March

  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.leigh@rjuk.org.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

There is a lot of advice out there at the moment on keeping ourselves in a good state of mental health at this challenging time. Worry about the future, as well as self-isolation, can have an impact on us all. Our Wellbeing and Inclusion Manager, Sharon Daniels, has compiled some of the best tips, so that you don’t have to look all over the internet. 

Tips for promoting wellbeing include:

– Take each day as it comes – the situation is changing

– Plan your day – routine and structure are important

– Exercise in a safe way – walks in open spaces are ideal, and connecting with nature is important

– Connect with people online and by phone – hearing voices and seeing people promote wellbeing, so don’t just text

– Make time offline – avoid over-dependence on screens

Find hobbies and activities – puzzles, books, games, movies – and perhaps make online book/film clubs

Avoid rolling news and turn off news notifications – check in once or twice a day

Practice relaxation and mindfulness – there are many apps and guided meditations available online to get you started

Ask for help and offer help – mutual reciprocity brings out the best in people and communities – even in isolation, you can help others by connecting with them by phone or online

Look for the positives – what are you grateful for each day, and what new opportunities are opening?

Many individual communities are offering practical, social and emotional support to people in isolation. General information about organisations supporting mental health and wellbeing can be found on the Reform Judaism Website.

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

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.

Please consider that a minyan can be online rather than in person.

Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner explains that, in these extraordinary times, a minyan can also be achieved online.

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.

Streamed services

Click here to find full information and links for all of our synagogues that are streaming their services online.

RJ: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.

Click here for the RJ:TV schedule and more information about how to join in these unique opportunities for connection.

Jewish Practice

As this unprecedented health crisis continues, we will update this section with advice relating to different aspects of Jewish practice, including the upcoming festival of Passover and for lifecycle events such as in the event of a death. 

An online version of the Reform Judaism siddur, Forms of Prayer, can now be found by clicking here.

We now have a dedicated page of resources for celebrating Pesach, including our Haggadah, details to join an online seder and other resources to enrich your celebration at this time.

If you have questions about religious practice at this challenging time, please email Reform Judaism’s Senior Rabbi, Laura Janner-Klausner: rabbilaura@rjuk.org. We particularly encourage those from communities without a rabbi/cantor to be in touch.

Chederim

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. If you would like to make recommendations or share resources, or add to our online resource bank please email Rabbi Debbie (see below).

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

For any questions about Jewish education, please email Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers (who leaves her role at Reform Judaism on 31st March): rabbidebbie@rjuk.org

Activities for young people are running daily on Remote Synagogue Youth.

Staff

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/.

Volunteers

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.

How to set up a phone tree

Data Protection Statements for COVID-19 response

Key Safeguarding Considerations for Communities’ Coronavirus response

Youth: RSY-Netzer

Check out RSY-Netzer’s online community – Remote Synagogue Youth – by clicking here.

RSY-Netzer is producing resources aimed at building and serving an online community. Resources are being produced for use in the eventuality that schools are closed and/or many young people find themselves at home for long periods of time.

We are building support systems, providing activities focused on maintaining the mental health of young people and using the skills and resources of young people to help older members of the community.  

Young people should be encouraged to sign up to the following group to receive whatsapp messages about fun activities (note: the group is only to receive messages – only RSY-Netzer staff can send messages): https://chat.whatsapp.com/BggNr6SZ97NFxIJqVmuaXS

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:

Safeguarding Online Process

Statement for parents

Policy – code of conduct for chanichim (participants) online

Madrichim brit Kehilla (community code of conduct) online

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.

Latest advice about funerals

From the Jewish Joint Burial Society (JJBS):

In accordance with Jewish practice, the health of the living is most important.

Attendance at funerals will not be allowed – this is in accordance with the decision of the Assembly of Rabbis of both the Liberal and Reform movements and is in accordance with our own thinking.  This very difficult decision has been taken with Din V’Rachamim (Justice and Mercy), for if even one person is a carrier of Covid 19 it could be passed to our staff and we may not be able to carry out funerals at all.

Click here to read a letter explaining this decision from the Senior Rabbi, Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors and Convenor of the Beit Din.

When the restrictions have been lifted, all friends and family will be able to mourn their loved ones in the customary way. There will be memorial services held for all these funerals held after this period which will be arranged by the synagogue or JJBS, at which the JJBS staff and rabbis will be available to assist with El Malei Rachamim and Kaddish, and for burials families will have the opportunity to put a small amount of earth on the grave to complete the filling in process so that they have taken part in the burial of their loved one.

There will be no Tahara (but the normal Tahara prayers will be said).

Currently no stone setting services are able to take place.

This information is changing on a daily basis, and we will endeavour to update this notice regularly as changes occur.

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]

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 rabbilaura@rjuk.org. She will be pleased to help you through this difficult time.

Other sources of information

The Board of Deputies’ advice on Coronavirus can be found here.

The Jewish Leadership Council’s advice can be found here.

The Jewish Volunteering Network have opportunities for people wishing to lend their help during the crisis.

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