March 23, 2021

The past year has been a difficult one for the world and for our Temple Beth El community. Almost a year ago we made the difficult decision to go virtual with the goal of protecting our community from the spread of COVID-19. During the past year we have been lucky to have some wonderful opportunities to gather in a safe way for several holiday observances like Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur and Purim, and join together in parks and other outdoor venues as well as virtually. Our first goal was, and remains, the safety of our congregation and our staff. We are very happy to share that the reduction in COVID numbers in our community and the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine will, at long last, allow us to begin the return to in-person gatherings as follows:

Now: We have begun to gather in person for Wednesday evening Minyan at 5 pm and Thursday morning prayer at 7 am. These services will continue meeting outdoors in the breezeway throughout the period of vaccination. Outdoor services are the most inclusive, allowing both vaccinated and non-vaccinated members to come to prayer in a safe way. However, if you struggle with any health condition that puts you at high risk, we highly recommend that you continue to connect with prayer through our online services until you are fully vaccinated.

March 28—29: For the first days of Passover, we will hold in-person morning services outside in the breezeway. There will be a limited number of people who can attend, and you will need to sign up beforehand to reserve a spot.

April 10/April 17/April 24: During April, we will continue to gather outside in the breezeway, weather permitting, for Shabbat morning services. There will be a limit to the number of people who can attend, and you will need to sign up beforehand to reserve a spot. We are working to bring these services also to you via livestream.

May 1: We will start holding in-person services inside our building. This is the first moment that our clergy and music director will be fully vaccinated. This is a requirement set by our Reopening Committee. At that time, you will be required to be vaccinated to attend the service. We will ask you to attest in writing that you are at least two weeks passed your full vaccination point. Service sizes will remain limited, and you will need to sign up prior to attending. People will sit in pods with family members spaced out around our sanctuary. Places will be clearly marked and there will be someone there to help you find a seat. We will also dismiss folks in sections to avoid issues of overcrowding at entrances and exits. These services will continue to be streamed so that those who have not yet received their vaccines can still participate.

To sign up for any of these services, click here.

We know you all miss the hugs and handshakes as much as we do. But for everyone’s safety, we will need to maintain masking, handwashing and distancing at all in-person services.

Even after May 1, we are committed to making at least one Minyan outside each week for those saying kaddish who have not yet received the vaccine.

Of course, we will continue to keep an eye on the situation and adjust our practice in consultation with sound medical advice. We trust that if plans need to change, you will all understand that we are doing our utmost to care for the health and well-being of you all.

We are grateful for the guidance of the Reopening Committee in setting these guidelines: Naomi Ivker, Dr. Joshua Richman, Dr. Ed Fineberg, Shira Goldberg and Fred Benjamin. We also want to thank the Medical Advisory Committee for continuing to share their expertise with us: Dr. Abraham Schuster, Dr. Jimmy Krell, Dr. Billy Lapidus and Dr. Stuart Royal.