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OVS UPDATED REOPENING PLAN - Shabbat in the Lot

July 15, 2020

Dear Friends,
 
We are writing to update all of you, the members of our Keilah, about our ongoing process in regards to gathering in the age of COVID-19. As you know, we have been holding an ongoing discussion with members of the synagogue in the medical field. Their knowledge of medicine is indispensable and their passion for the well-being of our members is inspiring. A few weeks back we opened for in-person worship with their guidance. We did so because the reality on the ground as to the numbers were favorable and also because we had come up with a path forward they believed was as cautious as we could be. All of our decisions have been in line with the Talmudic dictum that “p’kuach nefesh docheh et hakol,” saving a life supersedes all else.

As a people, the Jewish people place the sanctity and preservation of life as the highest of all obligations with few exceptions. The decision to open for in-person services was made with a commitment to an ongoing monitoring of the situation and continued conversation and re-evaluation of the facts on the ground. It is in that spirit that we met this week with our medical professionals and members of our leadership to discuss the present rate of the spread of the virus. Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided that we are going to suspend our in-person, indoor services in their current format. In place of our regular Shabbat morning worship we will be offering an alternative prayer experience, an “Oneg Shabbat,” on Shabbat mornings at 8:46 a.m. in our parking lot. In keeping with the current understanding of the virus and how it spreads, being outside greatly decreases the transmission rates, so we are moving outside.

Here is more information about this alternative Shabbat experience:
1) It will be about 60-90 minutes long.
2) It will be canceled each week if it is raining.
3) People should dress appropriately for the weather so shorts and/or outdoor attire is expected.
4) Social distancing and masks are still being required to assure greater safety.
5) There will be a combination of text study and prayer together with interactive modalities for all to enjoy this new experience.
6) We will be observing meldados and at the end there will be a Kaddish if we have a minyan.
7) Advanced  RSVP is still required, so we can have the correct number of properly spaced chairs. There is still a 25-person limit on the number of people allowed, so please make sure to register well in advance.

We will continue to monitor the situation and when our panel and our leadership believe it is appropriate to resume in-person indoor services, we will do so.
 
B’shalom,
Rabbi Josh Hearshen and Semon Akbashev, President

FYI, the full list of phases of reopening can be found at the bottom of this page and includes its own benchmarks and timelines. It’s important to note that safely reopening the Keilah depends on the cooperation of everyone, and as we continue forward, we will continue to loosen or tighten our policies as science dictates.

Phases of Reopening

Phase 1: In-person Shabbat morning service in combined sanctuary/social hall, with advanced registration and seating in marked locations only (leaving 6-10 feet between seating locations. No children (under bnei mitzvah age)) will be allowed, and vulnerable populations/those with preexist​ing conditions are encouraged to take additional precautions or refrain from in person attendance at this point. No food will be served and the water fountain will not be accessible. Only bottled water will be offered. Friday night service and all other programming continue to be virtual. Short (30-60-minute maximum) gatherings outdoors (marked seating a minimum of 8 feet apart) of up to 30 people, weather permitting, may occur. Masks/face covering required with individual screening at the front door.

Phase 2: Same as Phase 1 with resumption of limited programs within the building with registration limits (i.e. bureka making or similar) with masks/face covering still required and strict adherence to physical distancing.

Phase 3: Same as Phase 2 adding in-person Friday Night services. Possible revision of attendance restrictions (i.e. children); Masks/face covering still required. 

Phase 4: Resumption of programs/classes in the building without registration limits, and service of limited pre-made food on shabbat/at events (i.e. individual pre-wrapped cookies or danish).

Phase 5: Adding in full food service for kiddush lunch with servers

Thu, October 1 2020 13 Tishrei 5781