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British Jews Mark New Year in Bomb-scarred Synagogues

October 6, 1940
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

British Jewry greeted the New Year in hundreds of synagogues throughout the country, many of which bear the scars of Nazi bombs. At least three of the synagogues in London could not be used for the traditional services because of bombing damage.

With the civilian population actually in the front line of the war, Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz ordered a drastic curtailment and modification of the New Year’s service to prevent a congestion and expose the congregations to the danger of night raids.

The services began at 6 p.m. and ended before the blackout to enable the worshippers to reach their homes and shelters before the customary nocturnal visitations of the Nazi bombers.

In accordance with the Chief Rabbi’s instructions, oldsters, the infirm, mothers and children remained at home. Those who attended the services were mainly younger people and middle-aged persons, a great number of them in uniforms of the armed forces or civil defense services. Air Raid precautions wardens were on duty at all synagogues to warn the faithful if raiders drew near.

In provincial centers scores of private services were held in small halls and homes. At Glasgow, synagogues were hosts to more than 500 Jewish soldiers stationed in the vicinity. The soldiers were guests of the members of the community after the services. Special services were arranged for Jewish soldiers in Polish army camps in Scotland.

Premier Jan Sramek of the Czechoslovak Government-in-exile issued a New Year message expressing the hope that Jewish rights would be restored and that they would secure a peaceful home.

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