THE Reverend Jenny Ramsden, Interfaith Adviser for Bradford and Leeds, is keeping a blog, ‘Keeping Faith - an interfaith response to the coronavirus pandemic’, with contributions from people of different faiths in the district in response to the question: “What is helping us to keep our faith during this time of physical distancing, lockdown and quarantine?”

Here Laurence Saffer, Trustee of Bradford Reform Synagogue, draws on the life of his father-in-law Max, a Holocaust survivor, to remind us of the importance of small acts of kindness, and Saadia Mushtaq, from the Muslim Women’s Council, reminds us of the stories of the Prophets during their times of isolation and what those stories might teach us at this time.

Laurence Saffer: “‘Where was God in the Holocaust’ is a question that has been asked of the Rabbis continually for the last 75 years. It is likely, to be varied to ‘Where was God during the pandemic?’ to leaders of many faiths for many years to come. It is a question that people of faith sometimes struggle with, and a question that faith leaders struggle to answer.

And yet one thing is relatively clear. Faith will continue after the pandemic is over.

To some, faith assists in getting through the many difficulties created by the pandemic. But to many it is the acts of kindness which restores faith in mankind. The pandemic is not interested in such matters as the colour of our skin, or what we believe. And neither do those who are performing the acts of kindness that restore our faith in the goodness of our society. The health workers who put their lives on the line. The carers who look after the most vulnerable. The essential workers who keep our basic societal functions going. And those individuals who provide what may seem small acts to them but are large acts to the recipients through the provision of things such as food parcels, shopping runs, or telephone check-ins.

My father-in-law Max was a Holocaust survivor. His entire circle of friends were Holocaust survivors. Between them they had been in many concentration camps, and were subjected to the most degrading and humiliating treatment. He was beaten and starved and made to work as a slave labourer. And yet he kept faith in humanity and made a new life for himself here after the war. And in that new life he believed in reaching out to whoever needed assistance, whether it be through what may be considered to be inconsequential tasks such as giving lifts to work or having people who lived alone round for tea on a Saturday afternoon. His faith was not based particularly in religious convictions, but in the conviction that in everyone there is goodness, and at some point we will need assistance. Had he been alive today, I have little doubt he would have done precisely the same as those individuals from within all of our communities who act out of goodness and a spirit of cooperation and support. He would have been immensely proud of all those who perform those small acts of kindness. Because it is that as much as anything else that will enable all of us to come out of this, and hopefully build a more accepting and caring society, because the paradox is that the more we are isolated and locked down, the closer we appear to be coming.

We don’t all have the skill or patience to be carers or health professionals, but we do all have the ability to be kind and perform small acts of kindness. Each coronavirus cell is tiny, but many cells have brought societies to a halt. If we combine all the small acts of kindness we can rebuild our community of communities into a better place for us all.”

Saadia Mushtaq: “During these testing times, my faith has been a constant source of support and comfort. On a daily basis I discover many verses from the Quran, which are even more relevant at this time: ‘And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him’. (Al-Quran, 65:3).

This verse stresses the importance of keeping faith in the true sense of the word, at a time when it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the future: ‘O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient’. (Al-Quran, 2:153)

Patience is an integral part of my faith, whether during the long fasting days of the holy month of Ramadan, difficult periods in life, or times of ill health and uncertainty. Islam teaches us how prayer and patience complement each other, and the relevance of both in our lives.

The lockdown and distancing guidelines are not easy. However, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the stories of the Prophets during times of isolation. It was in the isolation of the belly of the whale that Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him) was forgiven. It was in the isolation of the cave that the Ashaab ulKahf were protected and delivered from oppression. It was in the isolation of the basket that Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was saved from the Pharoah. It was in the isolation of a cave that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was given Prophethood. These stories teach us that isolation is not something to be fearful of, and to use the time to exercise patience while getting closer to our Creator.

It has been heartwarming to read stories about places of worship supporting all members of their communities with food and supplies, all over the UK. They demonstrate the essence of humanity at the core of every religion. Even in isolation we can do so much. Let us use this time to reflect, to savour the stillness of the world, appreciate all our blessings, and to pray for those around us.

l To contribute to ‘Keeping Faith’ go to