Aug. 18, 2021

Dear Congregants,

I am writing to share critical changes with you in our plans for the upcoming High Holy Days at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple.

Just weeks ago, we presented in our August Fairmount Temple Bulletin our most optimistic plans for in-person worship experiences. But with the increasing threat of the Delta variant to the COVID-19 virus, we have decided to change course. We do not take this decision lightly, and we know that many of our congregants were longing to be in-person for the traditions they have come to know and love on Selichot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Yet the risk levels for the spread of the Delta variant, even by vaccinated individuals inadvertently carrying and spreading this dangerous variant, have caused the risk of COVID-19 transmission rise to a substantial level in our vicinity. The number of cases per 100,000 people and the test positivity rates are clearly on the rise and local health experts predict this will continue to rise over the coming weeks.

Our clergy team has engaged in deep consultation with our Fairmount Temple Executive Committee and our Medical Advisory Task Force. In addition, we have been impacted by presentations from high-level medical experts brought together by the Cleveland Jewish Federation to help guide our communal response to the pandemic. This has helped us to recognize that the rapidly surging Delta variant to COVID-19 simply represents too great of a risk for our congregation to open for in-person High Holy Day worship when thousands of persons participate on one synagogue campus.

Friends, we at Fairmount Temple are not alone. In dialogue with several other congregations in Jewish Cleveland, our Rabbis have developed a joint letter (read letter here) announcing a shift in multiple congregations to largely virtual worship and programs for our second High Holy Days of the COVID-19 pandemic. You will be moved to see several Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist congregations, joining together with a joint call for virtual worship for the sake of the mitzvah (sacred obligation) of pikuach nefesh (saving/protecting lives.)

The local news outlets may publish a story about this decision as a newsworthy change in format of High Holy Day worship. But please note that our action today with several other congregations is also intended as a call to vaccination and a message of urgency to our members to take precautions such as masking and social distancing that are among the best ways we can protect one another during this public health crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. If you have doubts or concerns about whether you should pursue vaccination, we strongly urge you to raise them immediately with your doctor, and unless they have objections, we encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and as FDA approval of vaccines continues to unfold for persons under 12 years old.
Here Are Our Current High Holy Day Plans:

Selichot: Penitential Prayers – Saturday, August 28
7 pm - Selichot: Entering the Season of Return: Penitential Prayer Service. This event will include our entire clergy team and accompaniment will be provided by Dr. David Gooding. The virtual service will be live-streamed and Zoomed.

Rosh Hashanah Evening – Monday, September 6
6:15 pm - Anshe Chesed Temple Youth (ACTY) Erev Rosh Hashanah Service – to be offered by live-stream and Zoom from our Bonda Chapel. This service is written and prepared by our temple teen leaders (but for everyone.) In addition to readings by our student leaders, Rabbi Elle Muhlbaum will speak and music specialist Ricky Marcus will offer guitar accompaniment.

7:45 pm - Congregational Erev Rosh Hashanah Service – to be offered by live-stream and Zoom from our Mandel Sanctuary. The Congregational service will include both traditional and contemporary music and prayer. Dr. David Gooding will provide accompaniment. Our entire clergy team will join together at this service. Rabbi Joshua Caruso will speak.

Rosh Hashanah Day – Tuesday, September 7
9:15 am - Rosh Hashanah Family Service – to be offered by live-stream only from our Bonda Chapel. This service will follow the Gates of Repentance for Young People Prayerbook. The service will be led by Rabbi Muhlbaum together with music specialist Ricky Marcus. Rabbi Muhlbaum will speak.

10 am - Rosh Hashanah Congregational Service – to be offered by live-stream and Zoom from our Mandel Sanctuary. The Congregational service will include both traditional and contemporary music and prayer. Our entire clergy team will join together at this service, and Cantor Vladimir Lapin will be joined by soloist Celia Hollander Lewis as well. Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk will speak.

11:30 am - NEW: Shofar Service produced by clergy together with Steven Hacker Productions. This pre-recorded program will offer new inspiration from our clergy and community for an inspired 5782 for our community, celebrating the Jewish New Year.

3 pm - NEW: In-person Apples & Honey Pick-Up and Shofar Ritual. We invite congregants to come visit the Fairmount Temple parking lot outdoors, see our clergy and participate in a drive-thru pick-up of Apples & Honey bags to help sweeten your family’s celebration of Rosh Hashanah and enjoy a socially distanced Shofar Ritual. More information coming soon.

6 pm - Fairmount Young Professionals (FYP) Annual Jew Year’s Eve Celebration. Our FYP is hosting a Jew Year’s Eve outdoors on the second night of Rosh Hashanah at Blind Squirrel Winery. This creative service will be led by Rabbi Caruso and musician Ricky Marcus. Rabbi Caruso will speak. This evening is for young adults 21 and over. Email fairmountyp@gmail.com for more information and to RSVP to participate.

Yom Kippur Evening – Wednesday, September 15
6:15 pm - Anshe Chesed Temple Youth (ACTY) Kol Nidre Service – to be offered by live-stream and Zoom from our Bonda Chapel. This service is written and prepared by our temple teen leaders (but for everyone.) In addition to readings by our student leaders, Rabbi Nosanchuk will speak and music specialist Ricky Marcus will offer guitar accompaniment.

7:45 pm - Congregational Kol Nidre Service – to be offered by live-stream and Zoom from our Mandel Sanctuary. The Congregational service will include both traditional and contemporary music and prayer. Dr. David Gooding will provide accompaniment. Our entire clergy team will join together at this service. Rabbi Nosanchuk will speak.

Yom Kippur Day- Thursday, September 16
9:15 am - Yom Kippur Family Service – to be offered by live-stream only from our Bonda Chapel. This service will follow the Gates of Repentance for Young People Prayerbook. The service will be led by Rabbi Muhlbaum and Rabbi Nosanchuk together with music specialist Ricky Marcus. Rabbi Muhlbaum will speak.

10 am - Yom Kippur Congregational Service – to be offered by live-stream and zoom from our Mandel Sanctuary. The Congregational service will include both traditional and contemporary music and prayer. Our entire clergy team will join together at this service, and Cantor Lapin will be joined by soloist Celia Hollander Lewis as well. Rabbi Caruso will speak.

12:30 pm - Music Meditation – to be offered by live-stream only from Mandel Sanctuary. This annual hour of beautiful music and time for reflection features our returning special musical guest Franklin Cohen, co-founder of Chamberfest Cleveland and Principle Clarinetist Emeritus of The Cleveland Orchestra.

2 pm - Milton and Ruth Stern & James A. Samuels Social Action Lecture. This special hour will be led virtually (format T.B.A.) and will feature Reverend Elizabeth Hagan, author of Brave Church: Tackling Tough Topics Together and Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility. She will offer tools for congregations to have difficult conversations on matters where there is a wide range of views and disagreements. Learn more about her at www.elizabethhagan.com.

3 pm - Afternoon and Yizkor Memorial Service – to be offered by live-stream and Zoom from our Mandel Sanctuary. The Congregational service will include our entire clergy team in a creative Yom Kippur afternoon service. Dr. David Gooding will provide musical accompaniment and Cantor Lapin will be joined by Celia Hollander Lewis as well. Rabbi Muhlbaum will speak about the Haftarah portion and Rabbi Nosanchuk will share the Yizkor Sermon.

5:30 pm - Neilah Service – to be offered by live-stream and Zoom from our Mandel Sanctuary. We invite everyone to join as one virtual community for Neilah, the final moments of Yom Kippur. We pray and uplift one another as the Day of Atonement concludes with inspiration.
I look forward to sharing with you more information about the High Holy Days in the coming days and weeks. Please do feel free to respond with questions.

L’shalom al Yisrael,
Shabbat Services

Friday, August 20
6:15 pm, Shabbat Evening Service will be led by Rabbi Caruso and Cantor Lapin, in person from the Mandel Sanctuary with masked worshippers, live-streamed and Zoomed. We invite you to join us in person if you wish.

  • For in-person Shabbat, masks must be worn indoors at all times whether you are vaccinated or not.


Saturday, August 21
11 am Outdoor Simchat Shabbat for families with children 0-5! Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and join Cantor Lapin and Rabbi Muhlbaum for songs, story and a treat for the little ones.
RSVP requested to Elizabeth Kleckner here. If weather does not cooperate, we will move this to Zoom and Elizabeth will send the link to you.
Selichot Service:
Entering the Season of Return
Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7 pm

The service will focus on the unique liturgy of Selichot and guiding us in entering the season of the High Holidays. It will feature beautiful melodies and liturgy of the season interspersed with teachings from all of our clergy and poetry from a new prayer book we will provide, Mishkan HaLev (Dwelling Place for the Heart)We will also change the covers of our beloved Torahs to mark this season.

NEW: This virtual service will be live-streamed and Zoomed.
In-person Shabbat Evening Services are being offered with live-streaming still available. Those attending services must be masked at all times while in our facility.

Lifecycle events, such as B’nai Mitzvah, weddings and funerals, can be held inside Fairmount Temple following the same requirements, including masks indoors and other COVID-19 safety precautions.

If the situation changes relative to COVID-19 and the Delta variant, we may need to restrict attendance and add additional precautions. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach us by email here or call 216-464-1330.