Dear Temple Shalom Friends:
One of the most powerful qualities of our Temple Shalom community is the way we care for each other. Because the mitzvah (obligation) of pikuach nefesh (saving lives) takes priority over almost all other mitzvot, we are taking certain further actions in response to COVID-19. In the interest of the health and safety of all, Temple Shalom will be suspending all previously scheduled in-person services, programming, meetings, religious school classes, and all other in-building activities through March 29, 2020. The Early Learning Center will be open today but closed from March 16 to March 27. These difficult decisions follow consultation with health professionals and reflections on our Jewish values. We will continuously be evaluating the situation to make decisions about our operations after March 29.
Temple Shalom Remains Here for You
- Erev Shabbat Service. Please plan to join together virtually this evening for Erev Shabbat Service. We will sing the Mi Shebeirach (prayer of healing) and say the Mourner’s Kaddish, as well as more. Details, technology and logistics are being finalized. Please look for a separate email later today. This online service will likely not be using the normal Live Stream of the Sanctuary.
- Mitzvah Corps.Mitzvah Corps is identifying ways that we can support each other, especially those at higher risk. Look for an email from Mitzvah Corps in the next few days for how we can help you and ways that you can help others during this time of need.
- B’nai Mitzvah. We will reschedule the B’nai Mitzvah previously scheduled for March to ensure everyone’s health and safety. We will be scheduling a virtual meeting with later spring B’nai Mitzvah families soon as the situation develops.
- Funerals and Shiva.We are here to support one another through losses while protecting the most vulnerable. We will only be officiating at graveside funerals with immediate family members present. There will be no shiva minyanim. We can plan public memorial services at a later date.
- Pastoral Care. While we will not be doing in-person visits to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, rehabilitation units, or individual homes, our Clergy team is available by phone and video conference. Please continue to let us know how you are doing and how we can help.
- Phone Calls.The Congregation’s lay leadership will be calling all households to see how you are doing, identify how we can help, and just stay in touch. If you receive a call from a phone number you do not recognize, consider answering to let us know how you and your loved ones are doing.
- Don’t Remain Distant from One Another.Mental health is as important as physical health. And mental stress affects our immune systems and general well being. Staying safe from COVID-19 may require distance. But you can still reach out. Pick up the phone to call friends and family in and outside the congregation. They will want to hear from you as much as you may want to speak to someone. Consider taking the time to write a note of appreciation and well wishes to someone who has done an act of kindness for you. It can help both you and them.
- Financial Obligations.COVID-19 has already begun to affect our economy. That may affect each of our personal financial circumstances in different ways. As always, our Financial Secretary Bev Potter is available to assist in connection with Temple related matters. Please keep the lines of communication open as necessary: firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are in a position to help others, consider a donation to our Clergy’s discretionary Mitzvah Funds to ensure resources are available to those we know are likely to be in need.
- Keep Us Updated.If you have been identified by health care professionals as having been exposed or suspected of having COVID-19 and you have interacted with anyone in our community, please notify us immediately.
Where Will Our Professional Team Be?
- Temple Clergy, Senior Staff, and our Administrative team will continue to work either in the building or remotely using our telework capabilities. Phone calls will continue to be answered either by someone in the building or the call will roll over to a remote number.
- We will spend next week focused on laying the foundation to provide expanded virtual support for our community in the weeks ahead. We ask that all committees, classes, tutoring sessions, and other meetings be cancelled instead of moved online or by telephone. This will allow the time and space for our staff and lay leaders to prioritize next steps moving forward.
- Keeping our community safe is our highest duty. Doing so has required significant attention over the past few weeks. And that has meant that in some cases responses to messages and emails may have been delayed. We ask for your understanding and patience. If something has been missed or is urgent, please follow up.
- Please be assured that we are taking care of our hourly employees, including in the Early Learning Center. Please know that our ability to do so is a reflection of this community’s generosity and commitment to run Temple Shalom consistent with our Jewish values. Thank you.
- We will also be using this time to conduct deep cleaning and put in place even more robust health protocols for when we are able to come back together in person.
We will get through this together. Please reach out to any of us if you have any questions.
L’Shalom (In Peace),
Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Senior Rabbi
Susan Zemsky, Executive Director
Rabbi Ira Rosenberg, Rabbi Educator
Michael Rubin, President