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Upcoming Outdoor Hybrid Shabbat

04/30/2021 01:00:04 PM


I am very excited to let you know that we will begin to have outdoor services next Friday night starting at 7:00pm weather permitting.  The service will be a hybrid service so those who wish to join on Zoom will be able to engage that way.  (In the event of inclement weather, we will meet only on Zoom.)  I really want to thank our reopening committee who has worked so hard at ensuring we can return to the Temple in the safest way possible.

For outdoor services the committee has required the following from those who wish to attend:

  • Masks required
  • An abundance of caution for the unvaccinated, medically vulnerable, and kids
  • Bring your own chairs
  • Social distancing is to be observed

If you have any questions about where we are in the reopening process please feel free to reach out.

During this process we always used Jewish values to guide us.  In the early phases of the committee meeting I shared a Jewish values matrix with them written by my colleague Rabbi Joe Black of Temple Emanuel in Colorado.  I share his rubric with you here to give you an idea of which Jewish values were taken into consideration:

  1. Pikuach Nefesh – saving a life.  This most important of all Jewish values once again tops our list. Our sacred texts teach that we can forgo almost any commandment or prohibition in order to preserve life.  In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, our top priority must be the health and safety of all. Every decision around reopening our facilities will be made with this in mind.
  2. Kedusha – Uniqueness. Often, we translate Kedusha as “holiness.” But a deeper understanding of kedusha teaches that we experience holiness on the deepest level when we look at every individual, relationship and moment as unique. When two individuals fall in love, for example, their experience is unlike that of any other. But this concept extends into every aspect of our lives. Each of us is holy – not only because we are created in God’s image - but also because our own experience is different, sacred and set apart. This also has practical applications that must be applied when we examine the unique aspects and needs of different parts of our congregation.
  3. Dina d’malchuta dina—“The law of the land is the law” (Shulchan Aruch).  Jewish history has taught us that, as loyal citizens of the countries in which we have lived, we have a sacred responsibility to support and follow the laws of our nation – unless they violate basic and fundamental aspects of our faith. In this light, we believe that we are bound by an essential Mitzvah (commandment) to support whatever decisions our local and national leaders make in response to this pandemic. Rules around safely congregating, social distancing, health and security will be followed. We also affirm our right and responsibility to respectfully and clearly speak out when we see injustices being carried out in the name of the law.
  4. Lo Ta’aShok Sachir“Treat workers Fairly” (Deuteronomy 24:14) Temple Emanuel is a large institution. We employ many people from different walks of life. Each person in our employ is unique and has their own needs. We are committed to doing all that we can to ensure that reopening will have minimal impacts on our employees’ abilities to care for themselves and their loved ones. We must be very careful to understand, anticipate and support each individual’s unique needs and comfort level when we speak of reentry into our facilities. No one will be forced to comply with any policies that they feel are unsafe.
  5. Simcha “Rejoicing.” Even in times of difficulty, it is important that we look for ways to celebrate Jewish life. This can be challenging when life-cycle events are cancelled, postponed or radically reshaped due to health concerns. We are determined to do all that we can – within the constraints of the reality of our situation – to help everyone achieve this.
  6. Nechama – “comforting the afflicted.” There is a palpable sense of grieving taking place in our homes. Some of this grief is a result of serious illness and potential or actual loss of life. But we also are grieving the loss of normalcy. Painful changes have taken place overnight. These changes can take their toll. In addition, we know that the pain of loss we feel is often amplified by memories of prior experiences. Each new loss can bring up the pain of previous grief. We need to be caring for and sensitive to one another as we navigate these uncharted waters. 
  7. Chazon - “Vision”.  This pandemic has forced us to examine and question every aspect of our congregation. With all the pain and upset caused by our need to close our building, we have also discovered new options and opportunities to celebrate Jewish life. We know that when this crisis is over, the lessons we have learned and the new modalities of worship, learning, communicating and congregating will serve us well as we move into the new normal of Post-COVID-19 life. We also have discovered the centrality and importance of sacred community in our isolation from one another. We need one another and are determined to continue to provide multiple portals of entry into our Kehillah Kedoshah – our sacred community.
  8. Hevei M’tunim “Be Patient”.  In the Mishnah (Pirke Avot 1:1), our ancient rabbis taught that being patient while deliberating is one of the most important values we can possess. While they were most probably speaking of how Rabbis should conduct themselves while in a court of law, this value has much more far-reaching implications for us all. Given the fact that we are dealing with a situation that is constantly changing and unprecedented in our lives, we do not have all of the answers to the problems with which we are confronted. We feel confident in our abilities to make well-reasoned and appropriate decisions most of the time, but we also are prepared to learn from mistakes and missteps that we will make along the way. We are determined to learn from every experience – as well as glean important lessons from other congregations and communities around the country. One concept that we embrace, however, is that every decision we make will have been for what we believe is in the best interest of our congregation.
Sat, May 15 2021 4 Sivan 5781