Covid – 19 Update
Howard Schreiber, President: Opening Temple Israel for Friday evening and Sunday morning minyan June 29, 2020
The TI Board of Directors have spent considerable time evaluating the fluid conditions around the Covid-19 Virus on our lives, and how we can offer live religious services to those who want them. I can assure you that safety and good health is involved in every detail of reopening Temple Israel.
Whereas many retail stores have reopened with restrictions, we will be attempting the same thing. One objective of opening on a temporary basis is to begin trials for consideration in opening for the High Holidays which begin with Rosh Hashanna on September 18th. We know it is a big difference opening on a Shabbat during the summer vs opening for the High Holidays in a restrictive environment.
As I said previously here however, that I will follow back with you later this week with specific details in attending Friday evening and Sunday morning services at the temple. Saturday morning Shabbat services will not be ‘live’ but hosted on Zoom and live streamed as we have these past few months.
Living Jewish lives and Jewish education of our children and adults alike through our many programs is always our priority. Maintaining our shul, our clergy, and maintaining our connection with others in our congregation may be difficult now, but we are all in this together and I’m sure you share the same hope when we can all come together again, in person!
Your support and understanding during these unprecedented times is very much appreciated!
As of March 12, 2020:
Dear TIJCC Family,
Due to the concerns about COVID-19 and the responsibility which we share with the broader Jewish community to prevent the spread of the disease, Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center will be closed from tomorrow, Friday, March 13th, through Sunday March 22nd. Shabbat services, Sunday minyan, adult education, all meetings, NNJJA and BCHSJS classes are all suspended. While the synagogue is closed it will be undergoing a deep-clean. We will send more information early next week. Maureen and Rabbi Fine will be answering emails regularly. Please let us know if anyone requires any special assistance with attaining food supplies. We share with you the statement below from the North Jersey Board of Rabbis (NJBR).
Howard Schreiber, President
David J Fine, Rabbi
The North Jersey Board of Rabbis
March 12, 2020
16 Adar 5780
We write to you with an important update regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health concern of our community at-large.
Today, we have consulted with the NJ Department of Health, local medical experts and government officials.
As a group, we collectively shared the various challenges that many of our communities are facing as we balance the need to protect the public’s health and the need to continue offering valuable services to members of our community.
Given what we have learned from experts regarding the profound impact that social distancing can have on curbing the widespread nature of this pandemic, we are urging that synagogue communities adhere to the following guidelines effective March 13th at least through and including Sunday, March 15th, in an effort to assist in containing the number of cases of individuals affected with COVID-19:
- We recommend that in-person Shabbat services and weekday services be canceled. Individual rabbis should guide their communities regarding the use of live streaming services on Shabbat. Alternatively, we encourage online Kabbalat Shabbat services prior to sundown on Friday and/or Maariv/Havdalah services after sundown on Saturday night so members of the community can be part of an online prayer space.
- If in-person services are held, all handshaking should be avoided, the Torah, siddur, humash, mezuzah or other holy items should not be kissed nor should the Torah be processed around the room, and individuals should spread themselves out through the room. We should avoid sharing tallitot and kippot. At kiddush, challah should be pre-sliced and other precautions taken to avoid hand contact. Anyone who is even slightly not feeling well should stay home.
- B’nei mitzvah celebrations should be limited. Consideration shall be given, in consultation with individual rabbis, to the recitation of Torah readings and haftarot that students have prepared for a particular parashah on alternative dates.
- Hebrew Schools should be canceled, including all relevant special programs. Communities should prepare to move religious studies learning to an online setting.
- It is recommended that public meals be canceled, which would include meals on Shabbat.
- Funerals should be restricted to graveside-only funerals, with immediate family-only. Shivah visits should be done over the phone or video conferencing. Individual rabbis should offer guidance regarding the potential of reciting Mourner’s Kaddish in a virtual space.
- Any brit, baby naming and pidyon/peter-rehem ceremonies should be kept as small as possible limited to the baby and parents. Grandparents and other relatives over 60 years old should not be in attendance.
- Nursery Schools housed in synagogues should be closed.
In addition we urge individuals and families to follow these recommendations to also help curb the widespread nature of COVID-19:
- Stay home as much as possible. Ensure that you have enough food and supplies, should the need arise for you to stay home for an extended period of time. This may include the basic necessities for Passover, including matzah.
- Work from home, if possible. Prepare to work from home for an extended period of time, if you have not already. This includes bringing home files, computers and other necessary professional materials.
- If commuting, avoid doing so during peak times and refrain from coming into contact with other people especially large crowds.
- Avoid playdates with others. Encourage children to have virtual playdates and prayer opportunities.
- Refrain, in general, from handshaking and other forms of physical contact, while following all widely-known protocols for handwashing.
Additional guidance regarding what communities should do beyond March 15th will be offered after Shabbat.
Please understand that these guidelines are ones that we offer with a heavy heart, knowing the significance that communal religious experiences have on us as we celebrate the joys and cope with the sorrows of life. We convey our dedication to ensure that alternative support mechanisms are in place to help you and your family during this difficult time and for all other pastoral and religious needs.
Our tradition teaches us that there is no greater mitzvah than pikuach nefesh, the saving of one’s life. The time to make these changes to save lives is now and we call upon everyone in a position of leadership to do so.
North Jersey Board of Rabbis