In-Person Services FAQs
This is one of the most challenging times most of us will ever have to navigate. The isolation and sense of loss are real. Because we long to be together again, we are sure there are a lot of questions about our plans for in-person services in the coming weeks. Please see the FAQs below to better understand what we plan to run and when.
What is the shul thinking in terms of in-person services?
There is no one who wants to have in-person services again more than the team here at KBI. That being said, if we say that our community’s health and safety is our top priority, we have to mean it, sometimes at the expense of programs and services that we wish we could do. We look forward to being able to see everyone in person again, but it will have to be when we can do so in a way that is as healthy and safe as possible.
So why isn’t KBI running Shabbat morning services?
We are inspired by a popular medical adage, “We don’t always have to be right, but we can’t afford to be wrong.” While we may “not be right” for not gathering now when we are allowed, the last thing we want is to be another House of Worship that becomes a super-spreader. We’d rather wait a few weeks and miss a couple weeks that would have been okay than launch and put people at risk.
But the synagogue is allowed to gather at 30% capacity...
It is Public Health’s responsibility not only to let us know how to be as safe as possible in these challenging times but also to respond with appropriate protocols following governmental decisions. While Public Health has made recommendations for how to gather in larger groups in Houses of Worship, they only did so after the Province permitted that practice. Outside of Houses of Worship and funerals, the limit for any gathering remains 10 people. As Public Health still believes that a gathering of 10 is the safest way to go (with the governmentally-dictated exception of worship), the synagogue is not comfortable utilizing an exemption to gather at a size larger than is generally allowed. 10 is Public Health’s number, so it is ours too.
Why don’t you just meet with 10 people on Shabbat?
There are many reasons why a gathering of only 10 would not work on Shabbat. First and foremost, as 10 is a minyan, the problem could arise that either someone doesn’t come because they don’t feel well and we don’t have a minyan or, even worse, they come when they don’t feel well and risk spreading their illness. Additionally, with 5-7 slots filled by clergy, service leaders, Torah reader, and monitors, there would be very few slots remaining for anyone else to attend. Running shul for 3-5 people while keeping everyone else away, is potentially worse than not running it at all.
If that’s the case, when will we have Saturday morning services again?
We are in the process of securing livestream technology that works in a halakhically appropriate way that will allow for one-way viewing of what happens in the sanctuary. Once the entire community is able to access the Saturday morning service, it will make more sense to determine, based upon Public Health guidelines at the time, the right way to offer a Saturday morning service that may have fewer people in person, but allow greater access to a meaningful service. For example, we may determine that it is a better plan to have fewer people present but allow for singing than a moderately larger group that would require a song-less service. While these services will not resemble what we were familiar with before the pandemic, we look forward to offering these services as soon as we are able.
But there are other services, right?
There are! For those of you missing services, we run a Zoom service every Monday and Thursday morning, as well as Friday evening. Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon services are on Facebook Live and we will begin offering a service a week outdoors next week on Wednesday afternoon. While in-person will primarily only be available to Kaddish-sayers, there may be a few extra spots. If you meet all of the criteria mentioned below, please feel free to register.
What are the criteria for participation in weekday in-person services?
To be eligible to participate, one must be healthy, feel well, and have not left the country in the last two weeks. All participants will be expected to maintain social separation and wear a mask at all times. People will be asked to bring their own Siddur and Kippah, though if you do not have one, one will be provided. The service will take place entirely outdoors, so there will not be access to washrooms or water fountains. To register, please go to
Why are you running services outdoors?
According to Public Health, outside creates a healthier environment than inside. As long as the weather is nice, why not pray outside? Additionally, it solves the question regarding use of the washrooms and gathering at the entrance and exit. For services that cannot be outside, or if weather makes it impossible to pray outside, we will pray in the sanctuary utilizing physical distancing.
So what is the synagogue’s short-term plan?
We want to start offering more in-person services, but we want to make sure we are running them effectively, healthily, and meaningfully. The plan is to offer one afternoon service a week for the first two weeks in July (July 1 and 8). We will use those services to learn what works and what needs to be adjusted. The following week, we hope to offer more afternoon/evening services and may be able to offer at least one morning service. Concurrent with that, once the technology is available, we will begin running Shabbat morning services as well.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. This is challenging for all of us and we are doing our best to provide meaningful Jewish experiences in the midst of this pandemic. While we all wish to meet in person, we hope, for now, that you will avail yourselves of all the amazing content and services that remain available online. In those ways and in so many others, we can be Together, Apart.