This weekend, I had hoped that we would be ready to bring people back together in person, but with a twist: out of doors in the Sukkah where we would benefit from optimal ventilation. Unfortunately, since numbers of daily infections rose well above their prior levels, surpassing the 600 new cases per day – the previous high watermark – during each of the days between June 11-16, we are not able to gather in person at this time.
When our lay committee of doctors met with a local health expert on Sunday, they brought me a strong recommendation that we should not reopen the building to the public. This decision is in line with the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and national guidance from the Conservative Movement. Due to the lengthy incubation period of COVID-19, the CDC advises allowing two weeks between seeing a decline in cases and reopening a communal building. Beth-El policymakers are deeply committed to following medical advice. This means that we will not be reopening our building at this time.
We hope that you aren’t getting too stir crazy. We sure miss you.
We will continue to work hard to bring you Jewish and spiritual services safely to your home via video. You can already see one of the improvements that we made by zooming in the camera for our live streamed services. You can actually see our lovely faces now! You can also engage with our new Instagram page and read some heartwarming stories on our Facebook page. We will be sending out more updates on the many improvements that we are working on.
We are currently at LEVEL 4.
Level 1: Extreme Caution
Level 1 response is aimed at increasing caution through social distancing and careful hygiene.
1. Congregants who are over 60 are encouraged not to attend if any health issues exist.
2. Congregants who have chronic medical conditions, or are uncomfortable attending gatherings, should refrain from attending.
3. The temple asks all visitors to use Hand Sanitizers located at each entrance of the building.
4. Additional janitorial staff will clean all surfaces including doorknobs, tabletops, and prayer book covers daily.
5. All services and programs will be held in spaces which allow congregants to space themselves out (suggested 6 feet apart)
6. Congregants who have a temperature above 100.4 F or have any symptoms of the virus (runny nose, cough, sore throat) should not attend under any circumstances.
7. Congregants are asked not to shake hands, kiss, or hug, and to give others appropriate distance at all times.
8. Congregants are asked not to kiss prayer books, mezuzot, tzitzit or any other ritual items. Torah readers and service leaders will have hand sanitizer when participating in ritual elements of the service.
9. Communal talisim will not be available at this time, congregants are asked to bring their own.
10. Special caution will be taken with food preparation and serving to avoid sharing of food serving utensils.
11. Livestreaming and online services will be made available as feasible for those not attending to participate in Jewish ritual services.
Level 2: Reduced Program & Gatherings/Virtual Program Offerings
This level is intended to limit social gatherings to small numbers and allow congregants to receive services virtually. All Level 1 responses will remain in place at TBE, as well as the following:
1. No public programs over 10 guests will occur in the TBE facility. Staff will continue to lead virtual services and educational programs with designated lay volunteer assistance, using Livestream, online conferencing and other social media.
2. Staff and limited lay leadership will continue to provide ritual and program services (communications, office function, donations) to support congregants.
3. Specific programming that will continue virtually with no live attendance will be Shabbat services and AM Minyan (via FB Live), JewCurious, Beit Midrash 2.0 and Wednesday morning Torah learning (via Zoom/videoconferencing).
4. Religious School programming will be postponed and rescheduled if feasible.
5. Other programs will be determined on a case by case basis depending on attendance expected.
Level 3: Building Closure/Limited Staffing/Virtual Programming
This level is intended to reduce almost entirely social contact for the safety of our community. Focus will be on virtual programming. Our building is closed to the public except to staff and designated lay leaders. All Level 1 and Level 2 Responses remain in effect.
Level 4: Total Synagogue Closure
Level 4 response will execute total closure of synagogue function until risk is reduced as determined with guidance from medical professionals. No staff or volunteers will be at the synagogue until further notice. Staff and lay leadership will communicate via online/phone to manage synagogue needs.
A Few Resources:
View the [T]Be Involved Social Action Committee’s Response to COVID-19.
Access the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 updates here.
Check out this Medium article about the Coronavirus: what you should do, when and why.