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Islington Rabbi says coronavirus lockdown will make Passover ‘very challenging’ for those social distancing alone

PUBLISHED: 16:53 08 April 2020

Rabbi Mendy Korer on stage. Picture: Siorna Ashby

Rabbi Mendy Korer on stage. Picture: Siorna Ashby

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Rabbi Mendy Korer of Chabad Islington says it’s “very challenging” for people to be apart from family and friends during Passover – but Jews in the borough will persevere.

Rabbi Mendy Korer on stage. Picture: Siorna AshbyRabbi Mendy Korer on stage. Picture: Siorna Ashby

Passover starts this evening and runs until Thursday next week, but this year the Covid-19 lockdown means that unless people live together, they can’t gather to mark the religious holiday.

Every year Rabbi Mendy helps organise a communal seder dinner to mark the first night of Passover, drawing crowds of about 150 people.

But it can’t happen this year.

Rabbi Mendy told the Gazette: “Firstly, I would like to wish everybody a happy Passover. This is very different, especially for someone who does not have family and they are isolated and home alone. [...]

“As a community effort what we have organised is Passover packages out to everyone in the community, so that way they can have all the provisions they need for a Passover dinner.”

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He added: “We have had about 100 packages gone out to people in isolation to assist them to celebrate, and for that I have to thank the volunteers, and my children who have helped with the packaging and some sponsors who have made it possible.”

He advised people to think about what they can achieve with the time they’ve got while cooped up at home, rather than just wishing they were elsewhere.

Rabbi Mendy added: “It’s very difficult and in a way every year we are celebrating Passover as the holiday of freedom, and thinking of the message as being free as we are in this country. Perhaps this year’s message is about the slavery, as well as about the continuing of the Jewish people not only in the good times, as we are now, but also times when it has been very challenging.

“Fifty years ago if you were in Russia you had to celebrate Passover in hiding, 500 years ago if you were in Spain you had to celebrate Passover in isolation. So we continue to champion our celebration of our identity, whatever situation we are in we always persevere and continue.”

He says anyone who requires help or would like to assist others during the pandemic should contact info@jewishislington.co.uk

For a directory of agencies helping people in the borough during the lockdown, click here.

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