For Shabbat and the holidays, we wish to balance the need and desire of many congregants to return to some version of “normal” by resuming in-person tefillot, with an acknowledgement that not everyone is willing or able to return to BJC; a number or our congregants face unique medical challenges and vulnerabilities and must remain extremely cautious about in-person gatherings, while others are simply not yet comfortable being indoors with others at this point. With that in mind, the Board approved the following guidelines (presented by Rabbi Rubin) on May 19th, 2021:
- To ensure the safety of those present in the building, anyone over 16 who attends synagogue in person must be vaccinated (and after July 1st, anyone over 12; vaccinations for the latter group are underway, but we need to allow time for the children of members to get vaccinated). While the synagogue will not use any sort of official “enforcement” mechanism, we will rely on an honor system and our community’s implicit and explicit trust in one another. Beth Jacob is a community of mutual obligation, love, and concern, and submitting documentation should not be necessary. This policy will be announced through signs and publicity. (*note: if there are members who are not able to be vaccinated for medical reasons, the synagogue will address that issue on a case-by-case basis).
- Beginning on June 12th, we should remove all capacity and distancing restrictions, in line with the recommendations of the MDH and the CDC. However, masks will be required (this policy will be reassessed later in the summer by the reopening committee and the Board in response to prevailing conditions, updated recommendations of the MDH, etc.).
- All services will continue to be “simulcast” on Zoom until July 15th, after which Shabbat services will be accessible via livestreaming instead of Zoom.
- Beginning on June 12th, all davening and Torah chanting will be done in person from the sanctuary; we will return to leyning from the sifrei Torah and to chanting the Torah and haftarah with berakhot.
- We will return to serving Kiddush lunch, albeit outside. The details of how the food will be served is still to be determined; perhaps we can simply continue with Kiddush kits, which will be kept at the shul and brought outside to be eaten after tefillot each Shabbat.
- Kabbalat Shabbat will resume each Friday night at the synagogue beginning on June 18th. Tefillot will be held outside (weather permitting), and masks will be optional. These services will not be available on Zoom.
- Some may wonder why Shabbat morning services are not being held outside. There are three primary reasons:
a) The sound of the highway and ambient noises, wind, etc., make it difficult to hear even for those present, let alone those at home participating via Zoom/livestreaming;
b) Folding chairs would have to be rented, and setup each week of the chairs, Zoom, Aron, etc., along with returning everything each Shabbat would simply be too difficult for the staff. Extra helpers would have to be hired, which is expensive.
c) The exigencies of weather (rain, heat, etc.), also make planning for outdoor services (or shifting indoors at the last minute) very difficult.
Shabbat and Holidays