As the COVID-19 situation changes, the Temple Aliyah Reopening Committee continues to review and adjust our protocols. We remain mindful of the need to balance the safety of the community, the risks of COVID-19 transmission among a largely vaccinated population, and our desire to be as inclusive as possible of all members of our community, particularly young families.
Since August, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts has continued to rise, although not at the same rate as cases between mid-July and the end of August. Because of the highly transmissible Delta variant, and the still increasing infection numbers in our area, we will continue to follow the CDC’s recommendation for counties with our level of new cases: specifically, that everyone should wear a face covering in indoor, public places regardless of vaccination status. With the High Holidays behind us, and with mandatory masking, we believe we can now safely invite into our services children who have not yet had access to a vaccine under certain conditions outlined below.
Here are the details of the protocols for daily and Shabbat services, which will go into effect on September 25, 2021:
All weekday minyanim and Shabbat services will continue to be offered in-person and virtually. The capacity for all in-person services will be 150 people, as it was for the High Holidays. The Sanctuary will remain expanded, with the movable walls open back to the annex and social hall, to permit maximum airflow in the largest possible space. We will continue to block off rows of seats, as we did during the High Holidays, to distribute attendees through the available space; and attendees will be encouraged to keep approximately six feet between different family groups in the same row. All people attending in-person will have to be masked at all times. Masks should be N95, KN95, or 3-ply or 2-ply surgical masks. We will have extras if anyone needs one.
In-person services will be open to all people 12 or over, who have had an opportunity to be vaccinated, if they (i) have been fully vaccinated, (ii) have provided proof of vaccination to the office in advance; (iii) have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 14 days unless they have later received a negative PCR test; and (iv) are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Proof of vaccination is a vaccination card demonstrating two shots, plus 14 days, for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines; and one shot, plus 14 days, for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Vaccination cards may be submitted by mail, email, or in-person to Executive Director, Melissa Rudman email@example.com, prior to the date of the in-person service.
Please note that we will not be storing any information contained on these cards. A vaccination card need only be submitted once. If you submitted proof of vaccination before the High Holidays, you do not have to submit it a second time. Proof of vaccination will not be accepted at the door on the date of the service.
In-person weekday minyanim and Shabbat services now will also be open to children under 12, and those children who have turned 12 within three months of the service (who may not yet have had an opportunity to be fully vaccinated), provided they attend and sit with one or more of their family members, and remain masked throughout the service. Children who have not been fully vaccinated will not be permitted on the bimah.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebrations. A Bar/Bat Mitzvah child must be masked at all times on the bimah, except while reading the Torah or Haftarah and while delivering a D’var Torah, provided he/she: (i) has been fully vaccinated and has provided proof of vaccination, as required of any other adults; and (ii) has tested negative for COVID-19 under a testing protocol approved by the Reopening Committee. (This protocol is similar to that followed by the Rabbi, the Cantor, and the synagogue President over the High Holidays.)
We believe these protocols will continue to keep our community safe, while allowing all of us to participate in the religious life of our congregation. We will continue to update the congregation as guidelines from the CDC and other governmental agencies change, or as we revise our protocols to meet new situations. Please feel free to contact either of us if you have any questions or concerns.
Keith Lewinstein, President
Peter Krupp, Chair, Reopening Committee