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Rosh Hashanah – Celebrating During A Pandemic

Rosh Hashanah – Celebrating During A Pandemic
18 September 2020

Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, begins today, and the British Jewish community will be looking to observe as many traditions as possible.

Owing to pandemic-related restrictions, the festival will be celebrated in a different way for many this year who are unable to attend a synagogue or large family celebrations. Rosh Hashhan is traditionally celebrated in prayer services, including the blowing of the shofar, an instrument made from the horn of a kosher animal.

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Jewish High Holidays (or High Holy Days), a ten-day celebration that ends with Yom Kippur—the holiest day of year. It represents a time for reflection, forgiveness, and hopes for a happy year to come.

Jewish Care, the largest health and social care organisation in the London and the South of England region, has been supporting their residents to prepare and look forward to celebrating the High Holy Days, making allowances for social distancing and other COVID secure measures.


"Rosh Hashanah is a new beginning for us and also gives us a chance to reflect. For many, it’s a time to spend in prayer as we ask for health and that this should be a sweeter, better year for us."

–Rabbi Junik

Spiritual and Pastoral Lead, Jewish Care


“A Chance to Reflect”


Jewish Care’s Spiritual and Pastoral Lead, Rabbi Junik, said, “Rosh Hashanah is a new beginning for us and also gives us a chance to reflect. For many, it’s a time to spend in prayer as we ask for health and that this should be a sweeter, better year for us.

“Whilst we can’t blow the shofar in the homes this year, there will be a film available for all to see on the Jewish Care website to prepare for the new year. There will also be shofar blowing in care home gardens before Rosh Hashanah so that residents can hear the sound through the windows.”

The care home is also helping their residents to connect with their faith by adapting traditional practices. Rosh Hashanah is traditionally a time when one visits parents and deceased relative’s burial stones. Jewish Care staff are now able to take a photo of the stone online to share with residents and members of community centres who would usually go to the burial grounds but are now unable to do so. 

The government has published detailed guidance on celebrating Rosh Hashanah safely, stating that communal worship or prayer can be attended by more than 6 people in total if they can “accommodate larger numbers in a way which complies with COVID-19 Secure guidance.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has also released a 2020 Rosh Hashanah message sending his “warmest wishes”.

Picture: A photograph of the written Torah

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 18 September 2020


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