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Operating Status

Operating Status January 20, 2023

Dear Temple Shalom Family,

As we welcome the secular new year and continue to hold all of Temple Shalom’s Early Learning Center, religious school, religious services, and administrative functions in person, we are also aware of the continued impact of Covid-19 in our community and country. Your health and the safety of the Temple community as a whole is vitally important to us.

Temple Shalom’s current policy is that wearing a mask when inside Temple Shalom is optional. You may also be aware that Montgomery County’s Covid-19 community level is now “medium.” While we have decided to continue with our current policy that wearing a mask when inside Temple Shalom is optional (with one exception as noted below), we are now strongly encouraging you to consider wearing a mask when at Temple programs. Additionally, as in our previous communications, please make sure to follow all CDC guidelines related to vaccines, boosters, masking following exposure, and isolation and masking if infected with Covid-19. And, of course, if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to Covid-19 or other viruses, we ask that you not attend Temple events in person in order to keep the community as safe as possible.

Based on discussions with some members, we have decided to reinstitute — on a temporary basis — a requirement that masks be worn by those attending Saturday Morning Worship and Torah Study (SMWTS) beginning Saturday, January 21. This decision was arrived at in consultation with a number of the SMWTS participants and was based on the combination of 1) the increase in service participation due to a wonderful pre-service breakfast program geared toward 5th-7th graders, 2) the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Montgomery County, and 3) the fairly small size of the Chapel. This change is not intended to impact the pre-service breakfast program or kiddush at the end of services and during study. We will continue to evaluate conditions of Covid-19 and of the minyan participation in determining when we will return to a mask-optional status for SMWTS. We will continue to monitor what is happening in Montgomery County and be prepared to make adjustments in our Covid-19 policies.

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Jeff Steger, President

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Senior Rabbi

Andrew Maayan, Executive Director

Karen Miller, Vice President

 

Operating Status Update September 12 2022

Dear Temple Shalom Family and Friends,

Shanah Tovah! We are pleased to share that the following change will take place following Simchat Torah, which marks the end to the High Holy Days. As of Tuesday, October 18th, masks will be optional at Temple Shalom. We have chosen not to make any changes during the holidays, as these are times of high density attendance within the building. We seek to minimize the risk of illness during this important holiday season so we can provide the congregation with meaningful worship and programming.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, masks will be required of individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 and who are returning to the synagogue after their five day isolation period until they are ten days past the start of their symptoms or positive test. In addition, members and guests who are aware of a close contact should mask for ten days post-exposure. Temple Shalom still requires that all members and guests stay up to date with all Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters for their age group, as recommended by the CDC. And, as we did before the pandemic, please stay home if you are ill or are not feeling well, including if you have had a fever within the previous 24 hours, to prevent the spread of disease and to allow yourself time to rest and heal.

The current conditions, vaccines, and effective treatments for Covid-19 allow us to reduce mandatory mitigation methods. We are pleased to be able to allow individuals to make choices about masking. If a new variant of concern emerges or conditions worsen significantly the Advisory Task Force on Continuing Operations may need to make the recommendation to reintroduce masking or other mitigation measures. Please note that these changes apply to all synagogue programs except the Temple Shalom Early Learning Center. Please refer to the Welcome Back letter and manual for ELC practices.

We would like to extend a deep thank you to Shana Jacobs, Lisa Rider, Alison Ehrlich, David Kornbluth, Marty Shargel, Marilyn Ripin, Peter Howard, Missy Mandell, Rabbi Gischner, Lisa Heiser-Polin, and Andrea Mark, who are the members of our Advisory Task Force for their dedication, expertise, and thoughtfulness over the past two and half years as they wrestled with balancing the public health needs of the congregation, staff, and clergy and our need to connect as a community.

We look forward to gathering as a community for a meaningful High Holiday season at Temple Shalom in the coming weeks.

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Jeff Steger, President

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman

Andrew Maayan, Executive Director

Karen Miller, Vice President & Chair, Advisory Task Force on Continuing Operations

 

Operating Status Update August 4, 2022

Dear Temple Shalom Family,

We hope that you are having an enjoyable and restful summer. We are pleased that we have been able to offer in person, indoor and outdoor programming and worship throughout the summer. As we have continued to monitor the level of Covid-19 in Montgomery County, look at CDC criteria, and assess the comfort levels of our synagogue community, we are making a few changes to our procedures.

  • We will no longer require registration for B’not/B’nai/Simchat Mitzvah non-member guests. All members and guests should be vaccinated fully for their age and circumstances, but proof will no longer be required. We strongly encourage families to ask their guests to test prior to large group gatherings in the synagogue, but it is up to family discretion.
  • We are pleased to announce that indoor spaces (such as the Social Hall and Chapel) are now available for private rental. There are no restrictions around eating, drinking, and masking during a private rental. These rentals are available for members and non-members. Please contact Kennette in the office if you are interested in a rental.
  • Religious school snacks and meals will take place outside whenever possible. With the rabbi-educator’s discretion, eating during religious school may move indoors when weather or other factors necessitate the shift.

We will continue the following policies:

  • Masking is required while in the building. Individuals can choose to wear any well-fitted mask. Masks are not required outdoors.
  • Service leaders may remove their masks when actively leading services.
  • Food and drink can be eaten indoors when in small group activities (such as committee meetings or Wednesday morning minyan) if all attendees are comfortable. Meals or refreshments for congregation-wide events (such as onegs or First Friday dinners) will occur outdoors. To view a complete list of the Temple’s updated Covid-19 policies, click HERE.

Our Advisory Task Force on Continuing Operations will continue to monitor transmission levels and are hopeful that when the transmission decreases from a High Level of Transmission, as designated by the CDC, we can update our policies and procedures accordingly.

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Jeff Steger, President

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman

Andrew Maayan, Executive Director

Karen Miller, Vice President & Chair, Advisory Committee on Continuing Operations

 

Operating Status 4-18-22

Dear Temple Shalom Family,

We hope that you had a meaningful seder. We are pleased that we have been able to offer in person, indoor programming, worship, and religious school. As we have continued to monitor the level of Covid-19 in Montgomery County, look at CDC criteria, and assess the comfort levels of our synagogue community, we have decided to make some modifications in some of our operating guidelines. These are largely changes in procedures rather than policies:

  • Temple Members will no longer need to fill out the registration form for Temple services and activities.
  • For non-Members, we are simplifying the registration process for B’not/B’nai/Simchat Mitzvah and moving to a single registration form in which attendees can upload their vaccination/booster verification. Non-members will also have the option to provide a negative rapid antigen test taken the day of the event if they are not boosted.
  • Children under the age of 5 will only need to show one negative rapid test if they are attending multiple events over the B’not/B’nai/Simchat Mitzvah weekend (i.e., Friday night and Saturday morning services).

We will continue the following policies:

  • Masking is required while in the building. Individuals can choose to wear any well fitted mask. Masks are not required outdoors.
  • Service leaders may remove their masks when actively leading services.
  • Food and drink can be eaten indoors when in small group activities (such as committee meetings or Wednesday morning minyan) if all attendees are comfortable. Meals or refreshments for congregational-wide events (such as onegs or First Friday dinners) will occur outdoors in the tent. Snacks and pizza for Religious School will continue to occur outdoors.

Our Advisory Task Force on Continuing Operations will continue to assess the comfort levels of our synagogue community and monitor CDC guidelines as well as what is happening in Montgomery County, and will continue to make recommendations for updates to our operations.

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Jeff Steger, President

Rabbi JoHanna Potts, Adjunct Rabbi

Peter Howard, Executive Vice President

Karen Miller, Vice President & Chair, Advisory Committee on Continuing Operations

 

Operating Status 3-3-22

Dear Temple Shalom Family,

How good it is to be TOGETHER! We were so happy to resume in person, indoor programming, worship, and religious school during February. As Covid-19 cases have continued to decrease in our region, and Montgomery County guidelines and CDC guidance continue to change, Temple Shalom is updating some of our operating guidelines:

  • Masking continues to be required while in the building, however, individuals can choose any well fitted mask to wear. Masks are not required outdoors.
  • Service leaders may remove their masks when actively leading services.
  • Food and drink can be eaten indoors when in small group activities (such as committee meetings or Wednesday morning minyan) if all attendees are comfortable. Meals or refreshments for congregational-wide events (such as onegs or First Friday dinners will occur outdoors in the tent). Snacks and pizza for Religious School will continue to occur outdoors.

We are hopeful that conditions will continue to improve. Our Advisory Task Force on Continuing Operations will continue to assess the comfort levels of our synagogue community and monitor CDC guidelines as well as what is happening in Montgomery County, and will continue to make recommendations for updates to our operations. We extend a thank you to this dedicated group of congregants for their continued hard work, wisdom, and commitment to keeping our community safe. We are looking forward to a vibrant spring including the return of a fabulous in-person Purim celebration, complete with Purim services on Wednesday, March 16, a fun community wide Purim Carnival that will take place both indoors and outside under our tent on Sunday, March 20, and numerous other events in the coming months!

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Jeff Steger, President

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Senior Rabbi

Susan Goutos Zemsky, Executive Director

Peter Howard, Executive Vice President

Karen Miller, Vice President & Chair, Advisory Committee on Continuing Operations

Operating Status 2/1/22

 

Dear Temple Shalom Family,

With conditions improving, we are pleased to announce the phased return to in-person activities beginning today. Over these past several weeks, we have persevered through the challenge of the Omicron variant and our move to virtual programming in January. The joy of our “Night of 1,000 Menorahs” less than two months ago showed how powerful and reinvigorating our gatherings can be and how much we value our personal connections to our Temple Shalom family. We look forward to many more such moments in the months ahead.

  • Beginning Today, February 2, the Temple will be open for in-person, indoor weekday meetings and activities.
  • Shabbat Morning Worship and Torah Study and Wednesday Morning Minyan may be in-person, indoors at the discretion of that week’s leader. Please check the Temple’s weekly email to confirm if the service is in-person or over Zoom.
  • In-person Erev Shabbat worship will resume beginning with services on February 11 at 7:30 pm.
  • Hebrew School and Sunday School will have a phased reopening of in-person and indoor classes. Midweek Hebrew will resume in person February 8 and 9. Sunday School for 6th-12th grade will resume in-person with Mitzvah Day, February 13. Fifth grade and younger will resume in-person on Sunday, February 27. Please see Religious School communications for all school-related details.

We will continue to offer virtual options to connect for those unable or not yet comfortable with in-person activities. Please click here to see our operational policies with respect to vaccines, masking, and close contacts.

We have found joy this past month in our virtual engagement, and we hope you share our optimism and excitement as we look forward to a Spring filled with the joy of meeting, learning, worshiping, and gathering together in-person.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of us.

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Jeff Steger, President

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Senior Rabbi

Peter Howard, Executive Vice President

Karen Miller, Vice President & Chair, Advisory Committee on Continuing Operations

Susan Goutos Zemsky, Executive Director

Rabbi Joshua Gischner, Rabbi Educator

 

Update in Temple Operating Status 1-7-22

 

Dear Temple Shalom Families and Friends,

We hope that you had an enjoyable start to 2022 and we look forward to another fulfilling and meaningful year at Temple Shalom.

Since our recent communication in December about the status of Temple activities, Montgomery County and the country generally have experienced a significant spike in COVID-19 cases. Our initial plan (in December) was to return with a week of virtual programming through January 9. Given the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases, we have decided to continue our virtual programming, including for religious services, Torah study, religious school, and meetings, until January 31, with a few exceptions.

The exceptions include the in-person vaccine clinic on January 9 and the blood drive on January 26, and the Early Learning Center (which has its own set of protocols including frequent onsite testing). Additionally, if unseasonably dry and warm weather allows, we will consider some outdoor programming.

If you are participating in any indoor events at Temple in January, we ask that you wear a KN95 mask or equivalent (without an exhale valve), which are considered significantly more effective against the Omicron variant than cloth masks and even surgical masks. They will be available at the synagogue.

We take this step out of concern for the rapid increase in local Covid-19 cases, the widespread disruption caused by quarantining and isolation, and our staff’s capacity to plan meaningfully without needing to worry about staffing shortages and last minute pivoting due to emerging cases. Our hope is that the number of cases will peak soon, and we will then be able to return to in-person services and programming in February. We will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks and reevaluate as necessary. If you have any questions, please reach out to one of us.

As we approach our annual MLK service on Friday, January 14, and other programming, we hope that you will join us.

 

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Jeff Steger, President

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Senior Rabbi

Susan Goutos Zemsky, Executive Director

 

Operating Status 10-18-21

Dear Temple Shalom Family,

It is with great excitement that we share this update about our current synagogue operations, including the resumption of some activities indoors. As our local Covid-19 cases continue to drop, vaccination rates continue to rise, and the anticipation of vaccines for 5-11-year-olds are on the horizon, we continue to explore ways to gather together as safely as possible. We look forward to many more opportunities to meet, worship, and gather together as a community.

Worship Updates

  • Shabbat Services will remain outdoors through December 4th. Regular Friday Evening Services will begin at 6 pm. First Friday Services on November 5th will include Tot Shabbat and begin at 5:30 pm, with the Family Service starting at 6:30 pm. December 3rd will begin with Tot Shabbat at 5:30 pm and the festivities will continue with Night of 1000 Menorahs and Consecration under the big tent at 6:30 pm.
  • Beginning with Shabbat on December 10th, and assuming no major spike in local Covid-19 cases, all worship will move indoors and Friday night services will start at 7:30 pm.
  • While the rates of spread are not high, masks remain encouraged, but optional for outdoor worship. Well-fitting masks will be required for all indoor worship. We will continue to provide masks for those who may have forgotten.
  • All services will continue to be offered via Zoom or LiveStream.

Indoor Meetings and Gatherings

  • Starting immediately, meetings may be held indoors at the discretion and comfort of the attendees. Events must be scheduled by Temple Staff. Please contact ten.molahselpmet@yksmezs if you would like to schedule a meeting at the Temple.
  • Masks are required indoors. No food may be served or consumed at indoor programs at this time, but you may continue to have food outdoors.
  • Religious School will continue to meet outdoors and will follow operating procedures outlined in the Religious School Health and Safety Guidelines regarding cold and inclement weather. These Guidelines will be updated as Covid conditions continue to change.

Vaccines for 5-11 year olds

We are eagerly anticipating the FDA and CDC approval of the Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 5-11. Consistent with our synagogue-wide policy on vaccines, once the vaccine is approved for 5-11 year olds, we will be requiring all congregants and Early Learning Center (ELC) students who are eligible to be vaccinated in order to attend in-person events – including Religious School and the ELC. Further information will follow in the coming weeks.

Temple Shalom is a strong and vibrant community that has shown resilience, creativity, and patience as we have endured the Covid-19 pandemic together. Our Temple staff, lay leaders, and clergy have worked countless hours to ensure meaningful worship and programming, while balancing the health and safety of our community. We are thrilled to be entering a new phase of gathering together.

Please contact  ten.molahselpmet@yksmezs with any questions about these updates.

L’Shalom (In Peace),

Rabbi Rachel Ackerman, Senior Rabbi

Jeff Steger, President

Susan Goutos Zemsky, Executive Director

Peter Howard, Executive Vice-President

Karen Miller, Chair, Advisory Task Force on Continuing Operations

Lisa Heiser-Polin, ELC Director

 

 

 

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