Dear Friends,

Over the last few weeks, we have been moving forward with the phased reopening of our beloved shul. The values that drive every step of this process are the halachic principles governing both our obligations in prayer as well as our duty to protect life. The task-force has invested much time in balancing these two ideals with painstaking research and deliberation. We recognize that there has been an uptick in the rates of infections locally and throughout the state, and we continue to monitor it carefully. We feel it is appropriate to continue with the minyan due to the safe environment that has been established in the shul that greatly reduces any transmission of the virus. 

 We very much thank everyone who has participated in the minyan in the shul and have demonstrated that we can have minyan safely and responsibly. All minyanim (except the Sephardic Minyan) will take place in the Main Sanctuary. Please take a moment to review the guidelines for this next phase. There are a few updates to this weeks guidelines. The new updates are italicized. All changes are effective Friday, June 19.

Physical Configuration

  • All doors will be propped open. (For security reasons, the main door will remain closed. Please contact the office for the new code).
  • There will be stations of hand sanitizer in the lobby and sanctuary.
  • Specific seats will be marked off as where to sit with appropriate social distancing considerations.
  • Seating of People: There will be a maximum of two people per row. The exception will be members of the same household that may sit together. Seats that one cannot occupy will be marked off. 
  • To allow for more seating, the back wall of the sanctuary will be opened and the women’s section will transition into the area of the social hall. This will allow the men to utilize the current women’s section to accommodate more seats.  
  • Cleaning wipes will be placed at several locations, including the restrooms. Individuals are encouraged to wipe down any surfaces that were touched. 
  • Cleaning will be done throughout the service (on Shabbos) and in between services as well. The shul contracted a cleaning company for this reason that will start this week. 
  • Makom Kavua/ Reserved seating: During this temporary phase, there will be no claims to makom kavua/ reserved seating. 
  • Daf Yomi: The Daf Yomi class will be taught by Rabbi Fisch on Monday - Friday at 5:30 am. On Sunday, the Daf will be taught at 7:30 am. The class will take place in the Mirkis Chapel with social distancing protocols and masks required.

Requirements on Individuals to Attend

  • Anybody that is feeling unwell should not attend minyan. 
  • Anybody that is considered high risk should not attend the minyan. Please consult your healthcare provider to determine if you are at high risk. 
  • There is no longer a maximum age restriction to attend. Anyone over the age of 9 can attend the minyan. Anyone under the age of Bnei Mitzvah must be accompanied by a parent and sit next to a parent the entire duration of davening. 
  • Masks will be required of anyone attending. The shul will be providing the maks for use.
  • Masks should be worn the entire duration of an individual in the building.
  • Masks should be covering the mouth AND nose of the individual. 
  • Temperature checks will no longer be conducted at the entrance of the building. 
  • We encourage people to bring their own siddurim. On Shabbos, we will distribute a copy of the appropriate Torah reading for that day.
  • People will maintain social distancing of at least six feet from one another. 
  • Visitors from out of town or members from the community that has traveled must wait 14 days before coming to shul. 
  • Registration will no longer be required during the weekdays. On Shabbos, prior registration will be required. Please note this is very important as we cannot exceed 50 people from attending as per the regulations of the city and state. The deadline for registration this Shabbos will be Friday, June 19 at 1:00 pm.
  • Registration is required for the Sephardic Minyan as well. 

Modifications to the Service

  • The longer people congregate, the greater the risk of transmission of the virus. With that in mind, there will be several TEMPORARY modifications in the service to reduce the duration of time in shul.
  • On Shabbos morning we will begin at 9:00 am with the Bircas Hashachar (Morning Blessings)
  • On the weekdays we will start at 7:00 with Bircas Hashachar (Morning Blessings). On Sunday, the start time will be at 8:30 am Bircas Hashachar (Morning Blessings).
  • There will not be a procession of the Sefer Torah.
  • There will be no kissing the Sefer Torah.
  • The Torah reader (Ba’al Koreh) will remove the Torah from the ark and perform Hagbah as well. 
  • There will be a plastic barrier between the Torah reader and the person receiving the aliya.
  • The Mi Shebeirach for the ill and prayers for the governments and military will be omitted.
  • Rabbi Fisch will deliver a short Dvar Torah but not his drasha/sermon. The Rabbi will continue to deliver his drasha on Thursday night on Zoom and Facebook, which will be posted to the website.
  • There will be no youth groups, Kiddush or Seuda Shlishis during this phase. 

Once again, we thank everyone for their support and patience during this delicate time. It is important to note that we have by no means been given an ALL CLEAR at this point. Although the rate of infections may be lower than in other metropolitan areas, we all need to maintain the appropriate social distancing protocol. It would be unfortunate and possibly even tragic for an outbreak to occur here locally due to letting our guard down. With the help of G-d, we look forward to a full reopening with everyone in good health in the future. 

Etz Chaim Synagogue