Dear Congregants,

When the world changed a year ago with the determination that COVID-19 was a pandemic, we didn’t know that a year later we would be still outside the building and socially distant for almost everything. We have worked hard to maintain our sacred community via Zoom for worship, for adult Jewish learning, for religious school, and for community. There have been some benefits for our congregants who had not been able to attend otherwise for a variety of reasons. There have also been some challenges for congregants for whom a virtual approach does not work for a variety of reasons. A year has passed with the celebrations, changes, milestones, and losses for which we join each other in community and we have been present in new ways.

With the decision of the State of Louisiana to move to Phase 3, working with the Reopening Task Force, we are moving towards having services in our sanctuary on Friday nights, beginning on March 19. We are trying to move with deliberate speed while being cautious in our reopening. Reopening does not mean everything looks again like it did in January, 2020, but it does mean that there will be the option for some to return to services in person. We will continue to stream all services on Zoom because we know not everybody will be able to return to the sanctuary.

The guidelines that the Reopening Task Force determined based on our reopening plan are as follows:

  • All attendees will RSVP using the link provided in the email
  • Those over 65 and/or with underlying health issues will be encouraged to continue participating via online methods, even if fully vaccinated
  • Worship will be held in the sanctuary, allowing for 6-ft social distancing of individuals and family groups
  • Attendees will be required to wear face coverings
  • Attendees will have their temperature taken before entry; anyone with a temperature exceeding 100.4 degrees will not be permitted inside the building
  • Attendees must verbally confirm to entry attendant that they meet other “non-symptomatic” CDC criteria
  • Worshippers will be required to sign-in upon entering the building
  • Worshippers will be asked to use hand sanitizer
  • Attendees will have the option of using their own smartphone or tablet for a virtual prayer book or use a physical prayer book
  • No gatherings will take place after the service
  • Rabbi Appel will be the only person on the bima. She will be masked and wear a microphone
  • Any musician present on Shabbat will participate from the choir loft
  • Congregants will provide own kippot/tallitot as desired
  • We are only opening Friday night services for now as we want to move into this change gradually. We know that people have missed being present with each other in our Sanctuary. We also know that we need to be careful for each other because preserving our sacred community means taking measures for safety.

Governor John Bel Edwards has declared Sunday, March 14 to be a day of prayer for our state, as we mark the anniversary of the first case to be confirmed in Louisiana and not long after the first death from COVID-19 to be confirmed in Louisiana.

We include the following prayer from Rabbi Evan Schultz:
baruch atah Adonai, blessed are You,
Source of strength;
Who imbues us with continued fortitude
To weather the storm,
and to fill open spaces with new sources of light.

If you have questions, please call Andy Blumberg.

Shabbat Shalom,

Andy Blumberg
President

Rabbi Batsheva Appel
Interim Rabbi