Everyone at Reform Judaism hugely values the incredible efforts which have been made by the leadership of all our synagogues in maintaining community over the past year. Despite the need for physical distancing, a huge amount of work from clergy, staff and lay leadership has enabled our communities to be as close as ever. Collectively, we have provided a spiritual refuge which our members have needed and valued.
The current number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths is incredibly high and the risk to our members is now similar to last March with the new variant potentially even more serious. We therefore strongly urge all of our communities to remain closed for in-person activities at the current time. Pikuach Nefesh – the obligation to preserve life – has been the central value of our decision-making at all stages. Whilst our synagogues are legally permitted to open, this does not mean we must or should do so. By continuing to limit our contacts, we protect members and professional staff in our synagogues whilst supporting the national effort to limit the transmission of COVID-19. It would be particularly devastating for the virus to be allowed to spread in our communities now when the prospect of the vaccines delivering widespread immunity is so close.
Together, we have achieved so much in facing down a challenge we have not seen in any of our lifetimes. Two vaccines are now approved for use so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We encourage all our members who are invited to be vaccinated to do so. The transition to virtual spaces; the care and support structures we have managed to put in place; and the spirit of togetherness which transcends distance – there is so much we should all be proud of. Reform Judaism will continue to offer you and your community all of the support we can as we seek to navigate what we all hope will be the beginning of the end of the pandemic and a new beginning for us all.
Chair, Reform Judaism
Rabbi Celia Surget
Chair, Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors UK