With the COVID-19 pandemic evolving in ways that are sometimes difficult to predict, the Temple Aliyah Reopening Committee has been creating and updating protocols that balance our desire to meet in person whenever and however possible with our need to maintain the health and safety of our members and staff. With the help of the Committee’s infectious disease experts, the Committee has studied the recommendations of the CDC and other governmental agencies and has tried to provide policies for Temple Aliyah to achieve this goal.
As many of you may know, in the last few days, our area (Norfolk County) has been designated as an area with a “substantial” coronavirus transmission rate, on a scale of “low,” “moderate,” “substantial,” and “high.” In areas with a “substantial” or “high” transmission rate, the CDC recommends that everyone wear a face covering in indoor, public places regardless of vaccination status.
In light of these developments, we are implementing certain changes to our COVID-19 protocols for in-person services and for the High Holidays. These revised protocols recognize the Delta variant’s high transmission rate, the remarkable efficacy of the available vaccines at preventing serious disease, and our anticipation that the number of COVID-19 cases in Norfolk County is likely to increase at least between now and the High Holidays.
Daily and Shabbat In-Person Services. Since mid-June, Temple Aliyah has offered in-person weekday minyanim and Shabbat morning services, each with a remote option. These services will continue in-person and virtually. Effective immediately, however, everyone in attendance at an in-person service must be masked. The only exception, in light of the relatively modest number of people anticipated to be in attendance at our summer weekday and Shabbat services, the leader of the service may choose to be unmasked while davening or speaking.
Effective August 14, 2021, in-person services will only be open to people who are fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination may be submitted to the Temple Aliyah office. (See below for further information.) And, of course, no one will be permitted to attend if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, are feeling ill, are awaiting COVID-19 test results, or have tested positive for COVID-19 without having subsequently received a negative COVID-19 test result.
Finally, there will only be a congregational kiddush following Shabbat morning services if the weather permits it to be held outdoors.
High Holidays. For the High Holidays, we will be offering both in-person and remote options for all services. Attendance at in-person services, other than services for children under 12, will require:
• Full vaccination
In-person adult services during the High Holidays will be open only to those who have been fully vaccinated (more than two weeks after the last shot) and who have provided proof of vaccination to the Temple Aliyah office. (See below.) Anyone not fully vaccinated is invited to join services remotely.
Everyone who attends an in-person service will have to be masked at all times inside the building. The only exception to this masking requirement will be for those leading the service – the Rabbi, the Cantor, or a lay davener – and only if they have tested negative on a series of COVID-19 tests in the days leading up to the service. Of course, no one will be allowed to attend in-person if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, are feeling ill, are awaiting COVID-19 test results, or have tested positive for COVID-19 without having subsequently received a negative COVID-19 test result.
We will be providing outdoor service options under tents for children under 12 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine. Registration, masking and social distancing will be required as in a school setting.
Finally, we plan to limit the number of people who may attend any particular in-person service during the High Holidays. The specific numerical cap is still to be determined. It will depend on an evaluation of the COVID-19 numbers in our area over the next several weeks. To implement these capacity limits, we will be requiring advance registration by anyone who wishes to attend High Holiday services in person. The High Holiday Committee will share information about the registration process soon.
Proof of Vaccination. To provide proof of vaccination to Temple Aliyah, you may scan or take a picture of your vaccination card and email it to Executive Director Melissa Rudman at email@example.com; you can make a copy of your vaccination card and mail it to Melissa; or you can bring your card to Temple Aliyah during office hours, ring the office door buzzer, and the office staff will make a copy of the card for you. Proof of vaccination status only needs to be provided to the Temple Aliyah office once. You will not be considered for in-person attendance at High Holiday services without proof of vaccination on file with the office.
We know the changes outlined here are not what many of us would have expected even a month ago, but we believe they are a necessary and prudent means of keeping our community safe during this evolving pandemic. The Reopening Committee will continue to monitor the guidelines from the CDC and other governmental agencies, and will update the congregation and revise our protocols as the situation changes.
We look forward to the entire congregation being able to participate in our services, whether remotely or in-person, before, during and after the High Holidays. Please feel free to contact either of us if you have any questions or concerns.