Updating our Guidelines for Gathering
Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,
Connecting with the CBI community online through Zoom prayer services, classes, festival celebrations, shiva minyanim, community check-ins, and so many other occasions of joy and sadness has been a life-line for us, and we imagine for many, over the past year. And… we recognize that digital connection, while a tremendous gift, is not the same as being in person.
Purim will mark one year since we were together as a community in person. After Purim last year, when the gravity of the pandemic became clear, we closed our doors and shifted all of our programming to Zoom. We could not have imagined then that we would still be operating remotely now… nor that nearly half a million Americans would die of COVID-19 in the pandemic’s first year.
Many of you have asked about our plans to “get back together in person.” As the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter with each person who is vaccinated, we want to share the current state of our thinking and planning for in-person gatherings.
Rabbi Rachel continues to be in close contact with other clergy of many faiths, and with rabbis across the denominational spectrum both locally and nationally, to maintain an up-to-date sense of what others are doing and why. The rabbi and the Board are together exploring additional opportunities that may allow us to come together in person more as the weather warms up, with awareness that asymptomatic spread is still a risk until all of us are vaccinated.
As we move forward with this planning, we welcome suggestions. Do you have ideas for ways to safely bring members of our community together? Might you want to help out with our planned pollinator garden on the shul grounds, or to organize something outdoors — e.g. an outdoor masked / socially distanced book group, a masked / socially-distanced hike or walk somewhere in our area — once the weather is good and we’ve updated our guidelines for gathering?
Please share your ideas with us by emailing email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. Given limited resources, and an uncertain pandemic environment, it is hard to predict what we will be able to do and when. But we can say for certain that we yearn dearly to get back together, safely, as soon as possible, and are exploring ways to do so.
We are also constantly tracking the latest recommendations from many government and healthcare sources on the pandemic. As you know, this information changes rapidly. We will continue doing our best to balance our shared yearning to be together in person again with our responsibility for the safety of our community, especially those who are at greater risk.
Thank you to everyone who has helped our community to thrive during this challenging time. We miss being together in person and are grateful for the chance to see you as we can, for now, online.
With blessings to all,
Chris Kelly, CBI President, and Natalie Matus, CBI Second Vice President, for the CBI Board and Rabbi Rachel Barenblat