Rabbi's Update 9/13/2021


Dear Friends:


I hope that you saw the note which went out on Saturday night after Shabbat informing our congregants that someone who attended both the funeral and the shiva for Curt Levinson z”l on Thursday subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.


The person who tested positive is NOT a member of Kehilat Shalom and has not attended any services or activities in our building. I want to make it clear that I do not know the identity of the person in question; I have told you everything that I know. While it’s natural to be curious, the fact of the matter is you do not need to know their identity in order to do the safe and prudent thing.


According to CDC guidelines, if you attended either the funeral or the shiva and are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine unless you are experiencing symptoms which may be associated with COVID-19. CDC guidelines also call for those exposed to COVID-19 to obtain a test between 3 and 5 days after exposure.


It is not my role as your rabbi to tell you from a medical perspective whether or not you need to be tested; that is between you and your healthcare professional. What I can tell you is that as a congregation with a membership that skews older, we feel the need to be as cautious as possible in determining who may or may not attend services in person, and that is why we have developed the protocol which we are following.


The following protocol has been developed in consultation with Michael Zapor MD, PhD, an infectious disease specialist and Kehilat Shalom member:


1.) If you attended either the funeral or the shiva and desire to attend Yom Kippur services in person, you must get a COVID-19 test and receive a negative result before attending.


2.) If you choose not to get tested, or you get tested but have not yet received a result, you MAY NOT attend services in person and should plan to attend on Zoom.


3.) If you receive a positive result you MAY NOT attend services in person. If you receive a positive result and also attended Shabbat services in person at Kehilat Shalom, please convey that fact to Rabbi Arian in confidence. If anyone who attended services this Shabbat tests positive, everyone who attended must now get tested and therefore needs to be notified.


If you have any questions about your personal medical/testing status, please contact your own healthcare provider. Since we all want to do everything necessary to protect the health of our congregational family, particularly those who are at risk, we anticipate and appreciate your cooperation with the above protocol.


I would also ask you to pay attention to your email between now and Wednesday and if the Kehilat Shalom emails sometimes wind up in your “Spam” or “Promotions” files, please double check. While we are still planning to have services in person for Yom Kippur, there is always a possibility that circumstances may force us to move to Zoom-only. If this happens, you will want to know so that you can plan accordingly.


This occurrence also points out why we ask you to preregister for in-person Shabbat services. If anyone who was at services this past Shabbat tests positive, everyone who was in shul this past Shabbat will need to be tested even if they were not at the funeral or the shiva. When people are pre registered for services, it makes contact tracing and notification that much easier.


COVID-19 testing is widely available even without an appointment. It is free of charge and the newer tests are not especially painful. If you need to be tested in order to attend services in person on Yom Kippur, please do so today because turnaround time for results can vary depending on the volume of tests on any given day. To find a location and to make an appointment if desired, go to:

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/testing.html


As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at rabbi@kehilatshalom.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.


L’shana tova,


Rabbi Charles L. Arian


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