Colchester’s Jewish community – one of the smallest in the country – has marked its post-Covid relaunch with its first communal Seder in five years.

About 40 people gathered in Colchester Synagogue – the only one between Ilford and Norwich – for a communal Seder which was led by lay readers Henry Fried and Raphael Graziani.

Several Israeli visitors were among the guests which also included students and medical staff from the local hospital as well as members from villages in north Essex and south Suffolk.

A vacant seat at the Seder table was left for Israeli hostage, Keith Samuel Siegel, and additional prayers were read for his safety and for the safety of all the hostages.

Chair Tanya McFerran says: “Most of our members do not have family in the immediate area. We have many people who are on their own and who would not be able to celebrate Passover without our communal Seder. It’s been very much missed!”

“We were delighted to be able to return to what has traditionally been a highlight in the Jewish year for our Colchester community. ”

“With the on-going and terrible events in Israel this year it was especially important that we could all be together as a wider family to celebrate in our beautiful synagogue for the first time since the pre-Covid Passover.”

Although the Jewish community in Colchester dates to the mediaeval period, the present Colchester synagogue was founded in the 1960s.

An independent synagogue which does not have a resident Rabbi, it acts as a centre for Jewish life in the Colchester and rural Essex district, beyond the larger London-Essex communities such as Chigwell and Loughton.