CBI Guidelines For Gathering: Pandemic and Beyond
Dear CBI Community,
This has been an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. We all dream of the day when we can safely gather in person again. And, epidemiologists are clear that SARS-CoV-2 (aka covid-19) will not disappear quickly, and our journey to safely gathering in person again may not be linear. All we can do is listen to scientists, do our best to plan prudently for a couple of months at a time, and build flexibility into every plan.
The document that follows draws on the most recent guidance from the CDC and the White House, and — connecting this guidance with Jewish teachings and values — imagines what community activity at CBI might look like in months to come. Again, we expect that progress through these stages will not be linear. We anticipate moving back and forth through these stages of openness in response to the public health situation.
Our Guiding Jewish Values:
Pikuach nefesh – saving life. We will prioritize the safety of staff and congregants, and the safety of those most vulnerable to infection, as well as the general public health, in accordance with this core Jewish value.
Savlanut – patience. We will “open up” as slowly as we need to, even though our hearts yearn for connection. We will cultivate patience as we walk this path.
Kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh – We are all responsible for one another. We act in accordance with this value always.
A note on singing: There is still a lot we don’t know, and research is ongoing. However, several studies suggest that the aerosolized particles released when we sing are significantly more than when we talk, and cannot safely be contained with a cloth mask. This may mean that until we have a widespread vaccine, we will not be able to sing when a group is gathered, even to chant aliyah blessings. We will discern when we should gather in person and abstain from singing, and when we should gather online where we can hear individual leaders sing and each sing in our own homes.
We know that scientific understanding of best practices will change over time, and our understanding of the science will change. Here is how we are thinking and planning at this moment.
Stay safe. During this time of physical distancing, we carry each other in our hearts.
The CBI Board and Rabbi Rachel
We are here now:
PHASE ZERO: Safer at home
All gatherings (services, classes, committee meetings) take place online, streamed from individual homes.
Staff meetings are online or via phone.
All individual appointments are online or via phone.
Minimal, drop-in staffing sufficient for essential operations (deposits, mail processing, etc).
We presume that we will need to offer High Holiday services in a new way this year, to be experienced from the safety of home.