President’s Covid Message, December 14, 2021

Written by: Robert Zimman

Dear members of the congregation and community,

Thank you to everyone for helping us to observe a “Covid Pause” of in-person temple activities over the past weekend. I am writing to inform you about the meeting held on Monday afternoon by temple leadership and staff to review our Covid protocols.

Overall, we feel confident that Temple Israel has been following best practices to mitigate the risk of in-person services and gatherings. We will resume our indoor, in-person activities immediately, including Yachad Shabbat, Yoga, and Hebrew School programs with appropriate distancing.

As a Jewish synagogue, Temple Israel is a covenanted community. We cherish and respect one another, and in that spirit, commit to acting so that everyone will feel safe and comfortable attending in-person gatherings. Our state’s outbreak continues to worsen; during our Zoom call, the news arrived that the first instance of the Omicron variant had been detected in a NH resident. To the extent that congregants prefer to reduce their own potential exposure, we will continue to provide Zoom or other remote offerings.

Our discussion was informed by the expertise of congregants Todd Selig, Durham Town Manager, and Jeffrey Salloway, UNH professor emeritus of Health Management and Policy. Due to his roles in USCJ leadership and the NH Governor’s Covid Re-Opening Task Force, Jeff is well-positioned to inform us of the mitigation measures taken by other synagogues and faith communities in NH and New England.

We identified several areas where there is room for improvement, especially in terms of communicating expectations.

For those who attend services or other programs inside the building, we expect:

  1. Individuals who are eligible for vaccination will be vaccinated. Booster shots are strongly recommended.
  2. If a person isn’t feeling well, he or she will stay home and participate remotely.
  3. Mask-wearing will be consistently maintained throughout the building, with a few exceptions such as student snack time (socially distanced if indoors), service leaders on the bimah, or staff members in their own space, not interacting with the public. Please no eating or drinking in the building.
  4. An attendance book will be placed in the Court Street entry. To aid in contract tracing, should it unfortunately become necessary, religious service and other event attendees will be asked to sign in for non-Shabbat events. On Shabbat, attendees will be asked to put a sticker next to their name in the congregational roster, and visitors to email the office after Shabbat to confirm attendance. The Hebrew School and Early Learning Center maintain their own attendance records.
  5. Anyone who is diagnosed with Covid and has attended an in-person event at the temple within 10 days will CONTACT THE TEMPLE OFFICE as soon as possible after they receive their diagnosis to facilitate contract tracing.

A number of additional action items were proposed at the meeting, including increased signage throughout the building, hosting a vaccine clinic at the temple, and improving record-keeping of congregants’ vaccination status. Progress on these initiatives will be communicated in future.

I very much appreciate those who wrote the office or me directly to share their thoughts on this important subject, and hope you will continue to do so.







Share this post: