I want to update you about our plans as we have our second Shabbat morning service back in the building tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow’s service will begin at 9:30 rather than 10, the same starting time as our services had before the pandemic. Assuming we have at least ten Jewish adults present, we will conduct the Torah service albeit in modified form. We will read seven rather than three aliyot and individuals will be honored with reciting the blessings before and after. However, both readers and those honored with an aliyah may participate whether in person in the synagogue or on Zoom. The service will not be precisely the same as services were pre-pandemic because we are still experimenting and figuring out what works, and what we do one week may not be precisely what we did the prior week.
One thing that will not change is our request that you pre register in order to attend services in person. The registration form is available here. Especially since we decided to make mask wearing optional for fully vaccinated attendees, we need to be certain that everyone attending is indeed vaccinated, understands all the rules, and agrees to abide by them. We also need to know who was in attendance in the event that contract tracing becomes necessary. Our congregational culture has historically been, shall we say, “flexible” around meeting deadlines and signing up for events and programs, and while this is fine for most things -- we do, after all, consider ourselves a family -- it will be more problematic for the High Holidays. While we don’t want to be in the position of telling someone who shows up on Shabbat morning that they cannot attend, we also need to inculcate a culture of actually signing up and affirming a familiarity with and intention to follow whatever regulations might be in place at the time.
As we work to improve our Shabbat morning experience -- including not only the content and conduct of the service but how we deploy our technology for the benefit of both the “Zoomers” and the “Roomers” -- we are also thinking about the High Holidays which, you may or may not know, begin this year on Labor Day. At this point I can tell you a few things that are clear:
Hazzan Komrad has every intention of leading services in our building for the High Holidays and believes that her health will allow her to do so;
We will continue to make our services available online for those who are unable to attend in person;
We will continue to require that those in attendance are vaccinated or have been told by their physician that vaccination is contraindicated for them, and in order for us to ascertain that these rules are followed, we will be much stricter than past years about requiring tickets and pre registration.
On a quick personal note, I wanted to let you know that I will be traveling to New York this Sunday for Father’s Day. I will be driving back Monday so there will once again be no Virtual Lunch that day.
As always, if you need to talk or I can do anything for you, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office as I continue to work mostly from home, although having been vaccinated I am available for in-person meetings in my synagogue office by request.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian