President’s Message #2 re: Coronavirus

Dear Friends:

We are lucky at this moment to have only five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our state, even as we realize that number will likely grow. We continue to look to the CDC and New Hampshire Health and Human Services for guidance. If you are in a high risk group (i.e. an older adult or someone with a chronic medical condition), please review the CDC’s recommendations and act accordingly to keep yourself healthy and well: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html#who-is-higher-risk.

Despite the low number of cases in our area at this time, out of an abundance of caution, we have made some decisions that we hope will prevent the virus from spreading through the congregation.

  • The Purim carnival on Sunday is cancelled. While the carnival is a wonderful celebration of Purim and community, it is not essential to our observance of the holiday in the way that reading the Megillah is.  Given that the carnival by its very nature involves crowds of people mixing together and children handling many small objects in order to play games, we decided to cancel it to decrease the chance of sharing germs.
  • Hebrew school will run 9 – 12 on Sunday morning.
  • Onegs following Friday night services and kiddush following Saturday morning services will be cancelled for the rest of the month of March. Communal gathering and socializing are at the heart of what we do and how we celebrate Shabbat. However, for the sake of public health, it is our responsibility to practice social distancing and to avoid spreading germs by eating in close proximity.
  • At this time, we are still planning on having the Hebrew School Kabbalat Shabbat service March 27 as scheduled, but the dinner beforehand will be cancelled.
  • Services will be held as scheduled, but only in the sanctuary. Please sit with space between your family and others. Please wash hands after entering the building and use the hand sanitizing stations located throughout the building. The sanctuary is being cleaned after every use.
  • When attending services, please refrain from touching the Torah with your hands, tallit, or prayerbook. We invite you to take a kippah home and bring it with you each time you come rather than returning it to the communal bin. You may also take home a Sim Shalom siddur to carry with you when you attend services rather than using/returning the prayerbook to the holders in the pews. Please also refrain from kissing prayerbooks, humashim, and mezuzot throughout the building.
  • Hebrew School and Preschool will be held as scheduled. School classrooms are cleaned after every use. While the risk of children getting seriously ill with COVID-19 is quite low, we do not want kids spreading the illness to their older friends, family, or teachers, some of whom are more at risk. Please keep your children home if they are sick, coughing, or sneezing. If they have a fever, please wait 24 hours after their fever subsides before having them come to school.
  • When you come to the temple, please avoid physical contact. This one is particularly hard for our community as so many of us are accustomed to greeting each other with hugs or handshakes. For now, break out your jazz hands or a big smile and nod.

Best wishes as we continue to navigate this uncharted territory together. I will continue to send you updates as conditions evolve.

L’shalom,
Amy Hyett, Board President