March 18, 2022 / 15 Adar II 5782
Dear Mount Zion Community,
Two years ago, at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, we announced the closure of Mount Zion’s building as we moved all services, classes, and programs online. Two years! Last month, as Omicron began receding, we resumed in-person gatherings including Shabbat services and Religious School, asking all coming inside the building to be vaccinated and to wear upgraded masks. As Omicron metrics continue to improve in Minnesota, we are writing with our plans to continue loosening restrictions even as we navigate the long tail of the pandemic.
Every congregation has had to wrestle with how cautious or casual to be in relation to Covid-19. Based on these four Jewish values, Mount Zion has chosen to be cautious from the beginning of this pandemic. We have done so to protect lives and will continue to do so to protect the immunocompromised in our community and our youngest children who are not yet eligible for vaccination.
If the current low levels of Covid-19 hold -- beginning with Pesach (Passover) -- RSVPs for services will no longer be required and food will be allowed inside the building. This will allow all who are comfortable to take off their masks while eating during onegs and congregational meals. Oneg treats to-go will still be available for those who prefer to leave before others take off their masks. On Religious School days, eating will be possible outside or in Johnson Family Social Hall or Margolis Hall.
Masks will still be expected for services, programs, and meetings. Anyone experiencing Covid symptoms or who has been in contact with someone who has Covid will be expected to stay home until they test negative.
While we will continue to expect up-to-date vaccinations for all eligible, we are excited to welcome children at all services in our building. However, on Wednesdays and Sundays, the Religious School will continue to require vaccinations for in-person attendance through the rest of this school year.
We are closely monitoring the leading and lagging indicators of the Covid-19 Omicron BA.2 variant in Minnesota, and if anything needs to change with our plans, we will be in touch.
We ask for your flexibility as we do what we believe is in our common interest. We are continuing to explore ways to improve Mount Zion’s indoor ventilation throughout the building in the short term (e.g., by means of air purifiers, improved filters, and increased outdoor air supply), and, for the long term, are in conversations with professional firms about overhauling our HVAC system, a significant project. As the weather improves, we will be making use of outdoor spaces whenever possible, while continually addressing safety and security precautions both outdoors and indoors. We will maintain and continue to improve our online accessibility to services and programs.
If you have any questions or comments, please be in touch. Thank you for your patience and support of one another and our community during this time.
Michael Wall, President
Phil Goldman, Chair, Opening Task Force
Chad Weinstein, Religious School Chair
Sue Summit, Religious School Director
Larry Solomon, Executive Director
Adam Stock Spilker, Rabbi
The Opening Task Force members (with their expertise): Phil Goldman, Chair (legal, OSHA/industrial hygiene); Ian Ellis (corporate facilities manager); David Knapp (safety and security); Dr. Gary Kravitz (public health, infectious disease practitioner); Julie Ostrowsky (epidemiology); Joan Ostrove (inclusion and accessibility); Hannah Siegel (public health, New York City); Neil Segal (operations, Ames Center performance venue); Michael Wall (President), Larry Solomon, Sue Summit, and Rabbi Spilker.
COVID-19 Safety Tips