As we approach the New Year I want to make sure that everyone has the information that they need to keep our services as COVID-conscious as possible and to make them an enjoyable experience for everyone.
First of all, if you are planning to attend High Holiday services in person, we expect you to be fully vaccinated unless you have a medical exemption. (We do not recognize “religious exemptions” because Jewish teachings require you to be vaccinated unless your medical provider tells you it is unsafe for you.) We do not require proof of vaccination because we trust you to be truthful.
If you have been exposed to COVID or tested positive, you must wait at least seven days before attending services. In addition, you must have a negative COVID test on or after Day 7 from the exposure or onset of symptoms. If you continue to test positive you are asked not to come to synagogue until you test negative.
If you have been given an honor that involves coming up to the Reader’s Desk in the middle of the Sanctuary, if you plan to do that honor in person at the Reader’s Desk you must take a rapid COVID test that morning and test negative. If you do not wish to take a test you may do your honor from your seat or on Zoom. Rapid tests are still available free of charge at Montgomery County libraries and from most health insurers. If you have never taken one, they are quite easy to use and give results in fifteen minutes.
Since we have been doing High Holiday services on Zoom since two years ago, most of you already have copies of the Mahzor which we use. However, if you are planning on participating in services from home and do not have a Mahzor, please obtain one from the office prior to its closing at 2:30 today. Mahzorim are available on top of the cabinet to the right of the synagogue entrance.
For the last two years we had not done Tashlich at North Creek Lake. As we have learned more about how the coronavirus spreads and that outdoor transmission is rare, we will do Tashlich at the lake again this year on Monday afternoon. We will also, as has been our practice for a few years, do the afternoon service for Day I and the evening service for Day II right at the lake rather than asking people to trek back to the shul (both of these services are quite short). If you are going to participate in the services at the lake, please take your Machzor with you on Sunday night or Monday morning and bring it Monday afternoon.
Keleigh and I wish you all the best for the coming year. For many of us this past year has been particularly stressful and we hope and pray for good in the coming year.
As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoon from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at email@example.com or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian