Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation ready to return to face-to-face services with Shavuot celebration
By Luke Williamson
The Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation is planning its first face to face event in more than 15 months to celebrate Shavuot next month.
After Coronavirus restrictions were eased in England on Monday, April 12, places of worship started to be able to plan events again, with further easing scheduled for Monday, May 18.
David Bartram, Chairperson of LPJC, said: “We are hoping to be able to plan a family event outside of the synagogue for the major Jewish holiday Shavuot.
“We have not had any face-to-face services for a long time, so we hope to make something happen, albeit sticking to the restrictions.”
Shavuot is celebrated on Monday, May 17, and is celebrated seven weeks after the second Passover Seder (meal). Orthodox Jews celebrate it over the Sunday before as well as the Monday but Liberal Jews who attend the LPJC only celebrate for one day.
The holiday began as a grain harvest festival in Ancient Israel but has identified since biblical times as the giving of the Torah – the first part of the Jewish Bible – at Mount Sinai.
Since the first lockdown, all services have been held online via Zoom and have seen some people joining in who are not regular attendees at the synagogue in Avenue Road.
“The number of attendees hasn’t really changed as some people have stopped attending but others who can’t usually access the synagogue have been attending from their own homes.
“It is different for people to get used to and some people don’t like it, some people prefer it.
“It is one challenge we had to overcome by establishing it quickly, and we will continue to use while the restrictions are still in place.”
Mr Bartram thanked the community’s Rabbi Mark Solomon for adapting to the new changes and there are plans to use a combination of face-to-face services with the virtual element still included.
He said: “We have to keep making sure everyone who wants to come to the services still can and we are looking at ways to provide this hybrid of services.
“Not everyone has been thrilled, but some people who haven’t been able to access the services before, now can because of the virtual element.
“Mid-May will be our first attempt at a face-to-face event and we hope it will be a success.”