Purim celebrations 'will be a bit different this year', says Hackney mayor
- Credit: Catherine Davison
Representatives from the Orthodox Jewish community in Hackney have been working with the council and police to plan and ensure Purim is celebrated safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Purim is a Jewish festival commemorating the survival of Jewish people who were, according to the Book of Esther in the Hebrew bible or Tanakh, marked for death by their Persian rulers in the 5th century BCE.
The holiday, sometimes known as the Feast of Lots, takes place on February 24 to 26 and usually involves donating to charity, dressing up in colourful outfits, street dancing and reading the Megillah, a sacred scroll, in a synagogue.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville wished those celebrating "in Hackney and beyond" a happy Purim: “I know celebrations will be a bit different this year, but it is important that we keep each other safe from coronavirus and don’t celebrate in the normal way.
"I will miss the traditional celebrations in Stamford Hill, but I hope this time next year we will be able to celebrate together again."
People have been asked to adapt traditions this year, preventing the spread of coronavirus by celebrating at home.
Street parades will not take place this month and charity collections are to be coordinated through synagogues with risk assessments ensuring places of worship are Covid-19 secure.
A joint effort has seen the police work with Rabbis, members of the community and the local authority to ensure Covid safety guidance and legislation is adhered to.
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Hackney BCU commander for the Met, Marcus Barnett, said he was "aware of how difficult it will be", particularly for children, to celebrate with current restrictions in place, but he wished Jewish residents "a very happy Purim".
Children will still be able to dress up and schools able to put on special activities under the current rules, however.
Binyomin Stern, president of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, said: “We are really grateful to Hackney Council for working with the community in the run-up to Purim and throughout Covid.
"We wish everyone a happy Purim and know that we will all be making a special effort to celebrate safely and follow the guidance."
For the council's guide to celebrating Purim 2021 safely, visit www.news.hackney.gov.uk/celebrating-purim-2021-safley.