In response to the real difficulties being faced during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Jewish community has responded with great tenacity, creativity and resilience. One of the core commandments of Judaism is to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ – and we are seeing evidence of this teaching being actualised throughout the country.
In addition to expressing our gratitude to key workers every Thursday evening, we want to show our appreciation to those who have responded to the call to help their local communities through volunteering. Each Thursday, we will be highlighting a few individuals who have taken on the pioneering and caring Jewish spirit, so we can say ‘Thank You’ for their work on behalf of the entire UK Jewish Community and from all those who are benefiting from their efforts.
Rabbi Margaret Jacobi has gone to great lengths to satisfy the spiritual needs of the Birmingham progressive Jewish community during the pandemic lockdown. Almost immediately, Rabbi Margaret arranged online services from inside her home. She has taken advantage of the opportunities that online services provide by creating a communal spirit through prayer-reading by congregants, showing the Torah scroll from her computer camera and replacing her sermon with written thoughts circulated mid-week. Further, Margaret has developed the spiritual environment and learning of congregants by introducing weekly Havdalah on Saturday nights and a Friday morning Torah learning circle, both of which were not previously done within the community. She has demonstrated that this lockdown has presented challenges but also produced opportunities.
Over the last few months, Keren has launched a covid-19 support group to help the community during this crisis. Within minutes, there were around 750 mobilised volunteers. Keren together with Shira coordinated a response to every request from a vulnerable people. Many people were extremely concerned about not being able to get food for Pesach, collecting prescriptions or getting access to hot meals. With Keren’s efficient work, every request was met by a willing volunteer and the panic turned to relief. In addition to this, Keren has been pairing up those who are elderly and vulnerable with ‘befrienders’ and through all of this work, she has been growing Gifts Young Professionals network. Keren’s dedication and efficiency has ensured that many people have been supported during the pandemic. She is truly amazing.
Val Harrison took charge to ensure that all members of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue were contacted when the lockdown hit to confirm their most up-to-date contact details. Val’s time and effort has helped to keep the community connected and ensure that members can access any help they need. She is such an asset to community life.