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Important Message Regarding Our Building and Program Plans - May 22, 2020

Dear Members of our Temple Shalom family,

In these times of deep challenge we continue to be grateful for our strong community and the ways we are caring for one another. With the Governor’s announcement on Monday that religious organizations are allowed to physically reopen, our congregation is now faced with difficult decisions about how best to serve the needs of our community, understanding that health and safety are always our highest priority.

The Jewish value of pikuach nefesh, to preserve a life, is considered above all other obligations.  As concerns about COVID-19 continue to be critical, the Temple Shalom leadership has determined that we will not begin to make plans for any reopening until at least Phase 2, it is our expectation that in-person services and some office hours will not resume until after Labor Day. The risks and unanswered questions are still far too many. 

We take comfort in our collaborative conversation with neighboring religious communities who in overwhelming numbers have also decided to remain closed for the foreseeable future. The Massachusetts Board of Rabbis released a statement of support for continued synagogue building closures as did the Massachusetts Council of Churches regarding Christian churches.  

We know that this may be disappointing for some to hear. We want to reassure you that we are dedicated to continuing to offer innovative online opportunities for prayer, learning, and connection. The increase in congregational engagement through online programming is truly inspiring and we hope many of you will continue to connect digitally to Temple Shalom as new and expanded experiences are offered. 

Regarding our summer Nature Explorer Day Camp, we have delayed the opening of camp to July 6th and we are now awaiting updated standards and requirements to be released by government health departments and regulators. We had been told to expect the new regulations this week but learned today that it will be two more weeks before information is released about what will be required to make camp safe for children and staff. Only once those regulations are made public can we determine the feasibility of opening camp safely.  Similarly, it is our intention that Nursery School will open as scheduled in the Fall of 2020 and we are currently waiting for updated standards and requirements.  We will continue to communicate with our camp and nursery school families and are availble anytime if you have questions or concerns.

Regarding B'nei Mitzvah services, we are working to continue to mark this milestone moment in a meaningful way and are excited to celebrate with several families in the coming weeks with services that will be conducted digitally. Our newly formed B'nai Mitzvah Task Force, made up of B’nei Mitzvah parents and our clergy team, will continue to review and evaluate our options going forward. We will be communicating detailed plans to the upcoming B'nai Mitzvah families soon.
Like many of you, we are also looking ahead to the High Holy Days and considering the best ways for our community to be together. More information about High Holy Day worship and programming will be available in the coming weeks. 

As always, our clergy, staff, and leadership are available to connect with you if you have questions or concerns. We welcome the opportunity to be in dialogue together. If you or a family member is in need of additional support at this time and in the weeks ahead, please know we are here to help. Information and resources are available online.

L'shalom,

Temple Shalom Professional Staff and Executive Committee Members

Fri, August 14 2020 24 Av 5780