Jewish people are facing another lonely Passover just hours before a planned easing of restrictions which would allow them to celebrate with others, the Chief Rabbi has said.
Ephraim Mirvis said it would be “very painful” and “very difficult” for people to endure the traditionally large celebration for the second year in a row amid a coronavirus lockdown.
Passover begins this year on the evening of March 27, and rules allowing a group of six or people from two households to meet outside are due to come in across England on March 29.
Mr Mirvis compared the situation to being told you could not celebrate Christmas with others until Boxing Day.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s very painful for us. It is very difficult.
“The closest comparison I could make is, let’s say if within society it would be allowable to congregate with up to six people or two households together from the 26 of December onwards.
“So literally within hours of Christmas Day it would be possible to do what you would have loved to have done the day before.”
He said Jewish people would have “loved to have the opportunity outdoors to have the festive meals”, but that people will be celebrating “in a pretty lonely way” again this year.
He added: “But we respect the regulations that are given to us and preservation of life must be the top priority, and always acting in a legal way, respecting the Government’s wishes. This is our top priority.”
He recalled telling people in 2020 that “next year, it’s going to be all different”. Speaking this year, he added: “Next year, please God, it’ll be back to usual for our Passover celebrations.”
Mr Mirvis said the “crunch question” last March was whether to keep synagogues open and that he was “proud” of acting early on, before the Government brought in the nationwide lockdown.
He said: “I could never have imagined having to take such a decision. We were determined to be ahead of the curve, not to wait for the Government to force this upon us.”
He added: “We were doing it of our own volition. I’m proud of the steps that we took.”