A Message from Mariela Markelis Dybner, CBI President
Friday, July 17
It has certainly been a long four months since we were able to gather at our synagogue, and unfortunately, as we are all too aware, there seems to be no date in sight when we will be able to all come together again without restriction. Our clergy, professional staff and volunteers have made a yeoman’s effort to provide services, programming and camaraderie during these difficult times to you, our synagogue community. Our Zoom services and programming have been very well attended and have served to fill an urgent need in our congregants’ lives. The good news is that the numbers of Covid cases in our community, town, state and neighboring states has dropped to levels at which our governor and related health authorities have determined that limited outside groups practicing accordant protocols can meet and even more limited groups can gather indoors.
In anticipation of these changes, as discussed at our annual meeting, we set up a new Reopening Committee tasked with recommending a measured and practical method to introduce in-person services. Their recommendation, which was approved by our Board of Trustees this week, provides a step by step basis, first to hold evening minyan twice a week outdoors and then slowly over a period of weeks if things continue to progress positively to hold indoor Shabbat services. However, it is stressed that no one should feel obliged to attend these services for we will continue to hold all of our services and programming over Zoom just as we have been doing the past few months. At this time, we are adding an option for those who do not find remote services sufficient and who feel safe and secure enough to attend in person outdoor services and over time indoor services.
Temperature screening and COVID self-assessment protocols will be instituted and all protocols recommended by public health authorities will be strictly enforced including social distancing, face coverings and once indoors extensive cleaning of all public spaces. Now, candidly, I understand that some may find these measures inconvenient, but they are necessary given the “new normal” that we are all living in, and it is critically important that we remain consistent and disciplined in following these practices in order to achieve our goal of offering in-person services and programming while diligently following health guidelines.
The outdoor weeknight minyan will begin Thursday, July 23 and will continue each Tuesday and Thursday at 8pm to join our regular Zoom service. To attend the evening minyan, you will need to register beforehand by either calling or emailing Karen Tucker. At first, the in-person minyan will be limited to fifteen people so that we can take a measure of the program. We will also need volunteers to help staff and run the minyanim. The volunteers will be the ones administering the COVID questionnaires, taking temperatures of each attendee, strictly enforcing social distancing and making sure that everyone is wearing masks. If you wish to volunteer to be a minyan aide, please contact Karen Tucker as provided above.
We would request that all those who plan to attend the services only enter through the main parking lot. (services will be held in the back of the synagogue for security purposes and other security measures will be taken). You will not be allowed to enter through the cull de sac on Ridgewood Road. This is being done so we can make sure that everyone who enters has had their temperature taken, answered the Covid questionnaire and is wearing a mask. The services and state health guidance will be monitored to determine whether to continue or modify the service and protocol.
This progression to in person services is not taken lightly by our clergy, professional staff and lay leaders and is not and it is stressed again intended to make anyone do anything outside their comfort zone, it is being instituted only as method to provide an avenue for those for whom remote services are not sufficient and feel safe and secure attending such a service. It is important that those who attend these services follow the rules and regulations implemented for if these necessary safety precautions are not being followed, we will have to suspend the program.
As we enter the middle of summer, a summer unlike any we’ve ever experienced, I think we can look back over the last four months, and without in any way diminishing the awful impact of this pandemic, take satisfaction in the careful work we have done, and the progress we have made, to keep our Congregation up and running to meet the needs of our members. At the same time, we all know that there is a long road ahead of us, with twists and turns and detours we can’t foresee. But if we stay patient with each other, united in our approach, nimble in our preparations and laser-focused on the latest public health guidance, we have every confidence that we will meet whatever challenges lie ahead and continue to responsibly discharge our mission in the context of the “new normal” in which we all now work and live. So, thank you for giving us a few minutes of your time to read about this development. Stay well, continue to take the necessary precautions to keep yourselves, your families and those around you safe — and stay tuned for additional updates. Thank you.
Mariela Markelis Dybner