Short Shabbat services are here to stay - United Synagogue president

Michael Goldstein, who heads the union of British Orthodox Jewish synagogues, said he foresees a "hybrid" model will replace mainstream services.

‘Backyard prayer’ by Leah Raab (photo credit: LEAH RAAB)
‘Backyard prayer’ by Leah Raab
(photo credit: LEAH RAAB)

The days of three-hour-long Shabbat services may soon be a thing of the past, according to the president of United Synagogue, the Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported on Tuesday.

Michael Goldstein, who heads the union of British Orthodox Jewish synagogues, told the JC that he predicts the coronavirus pandemic will shorten Saturday morning prayers indefinitely, something that he said synagogue-goers wanted before COVID-19, but that will be accelerated by the virus. 

Goldstein said he foresees a "hybrid" model will replace mainstream services. He added that quality of prayer and community engagement, including volunteering, have not dropped over the past two years and will continue to thrive. 

Jewish prayer illustrated.Jewish Week illustration/Photo by Itamar Grinberg for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism/JTAJewish prayer illustrated.Jewish Week illustration/Photo by Itamar Grinberg for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism/JTA

He told the JC that despite the pandemic, the United Synagogue, which is the largest synagogue body in Europe, supporting some 60 Orthodox Jewish communities, is flourishing, offering new initiatives including a course to train female educators. Over the past year, the US has welcomed 1,000 new members  - 20 per cent of whom were under the age of 30.