Coronavirus: Purim guidance from the United Synagogue approved by the Chief Rabbi
Date Uploaded: 
Monday 9th March 2020

Coronavirus continues to pose a threat and we expect to receive further government advice during the week. Please do follow the national advice as it develops and also see NHS guidance and government travel advice.

Additional advice in a United Synagogue context

Previous United Synagogue guidance remains in place (click here to read). However, given that it is Purim tonight, and given the importance of hearing the megillah, we would like to offer further guidance to help our communities celebrate as safely as is reasonably possible. Please do share this with your members.

Where more specific guidance is needed or you wish to discuss the points raised below, we encourage you to speak with your local Rabbi, who should be your first point of call for any questions.


There is a mitzvah for everyone to hear the megillah twice – once in the evening (tonight) and once during the day to be completed by sunset tomorrow

Megillah readings are going ahead in our communities and if you are well, you should attend.

If you are unable to attend on account of legitimate Coronavirus considerations (as set out in Government guidelines and the previous United Synagogue guidance), and if you are unable to read the Megillah for yourself or have it read for you at home, you can listen to the reading, both tonight and tomorrow on a telephone or through a livestream. For the few people in this situation, the US will be livestreaming the megillah this evening around 6.30pm on its Facebook page. We will also livestream a reading tomorrow morning at 11.00am. We will announce any changes on our Facebook and Twitter page. Please note: this facility should only be used by people who meet these criteria.

Matanot L’evyonim, Gifts to the Poor

 One of the three other daytime mitzvot of Purim is Matanot L’evyonim, the giving of charity to people in need.

Someone who is in isolation cannot do this and should appoint a shaliach – messenger – to do this for them. This could be a friend, community or family member.

Mishloach Manot, Gifts of Food to Friends

 Mishloach Manot, literally, ‘the sending of portions’, are gifts of food given to friends on Purim. You can give as much as you like, but the minimum to fulfil the mitzvah is to give two different food items to a friend. The foods should be ready-to-eat.

As with Matanot L’evyonim, someone who is in isolation cannot do this personally and should appoint a shaliach – messenger – to do this for them. This could be a friend, community or family member.

Purim seuda, Festive meal

The final mitzvah of Purim is a seuda, a festive meal. This is traditionally enjoyed with friends and family.

Someone who is self-isolating cannot join a seuda and so should make one at home for themselves.


Despite the circumstances, the United Synagogue wishes you and your communities a Purim sameach and we pray for a refuah sheleimah for those who are unwell.