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[KE CyberTorah] Covid and Gatherings

Covid and Gatherings

We are living through a greatly challenging time which strikes at some of our deepest most human hopes. Masking saves lives and keeps us from seeing one another’s faces. Face to face relationship is the most sacred moment of connection, and we must cover our faces to keep each other safe. Gathering in groups creates social connection, it allows for a covenantal community to grow, thrive and form.

Zoom and other virtual gatherings have served to sustain existing connections, but are poor at helping us form new connections. Inevitably, this privileges those with strong pre-existing networks and leaves us all with networks that will shrink without any openness to new people. As our networks shrink, their personal and spiritual resilience shrink. Those upon whom we can rely become fewer; those who will challenge and inspire us in new ways will never be met.

And yet, we are in the midst of a pandemic. Vaccines are having huge impact, but with the rise of Delta nothing is certain. Further, children remain unvaccinated and we want to keep our children safe at the same time that we value multi-generational community and the sacredness and renewal that comes from relationships of young and old, when we fulfill Moses’ definition of a community that goes with its young and old together.

In such an environment, we are wrestling every day with the right way to have in person services and what to do about virtual programs. Here is some of our thinking of the moment:

1.    We trust the County. We are following County guidelines and will continue to do so. County guidelines allow for indoor masked gatherings and outdoor unmasked. They require all unvaccinated people to wear masks in any gathering. The guidelines also have some permissions for people officiating at services.

2.    We are blessed with a facility with lots of outdoor spaces and with excellent ventilation. We are offering both indoor and outdoor seating for all our adult services and allowing people to be where they feel safest and most comfortable.

3.    We have resisted capacity limitations. People are making their own choices about what feels safe and that has meant we so far have had plenty of space for everyone to attend and not feel crowded.  

4.    We have great ability to stream many options and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

As a result we are planning to offer High Holiday in person services to anyone from the congregation who wants to attend. We will offer seating in the courtyard for those who want it. Masks will be required indoors and unvaccinated people including children must remain in our outdoor seating only. Further, we will offer family and children’s services in our above ground parking area that we will convert into a tented in person area with multiple options.

At the same time, we are committed to using Zoom for many of our services as well as some Zoom only options. There will be a few services that won’t make sense to stream and a few Zoom only offerings so the Zoom community can be seen and cared for.

As the holidays draw near, we will get you more exact details but I wanted to alert you to our plans and thinking at this time. We want to create options for all that are safe, that follow the County guidelines, and that let us thrive as a spiritual community. I hope to see you in some fashion, whether in person or virtually, during the Holidays!

With love and wishes for a joyous Shabbat-
Rabbi David Booth

Thu, May 30 2024 22 Iyyar 5784