Letter from the President – High Holiday Announcement

Editor’s note: This message was originally emailed to the congregation on July 16th.

IMG_0397Dear Shomrei Friends,
It is with great joy and gratitude that I write to you, announcing that this year’s High Holy Days will be back in person for those who wish and are able to attend. We understand that our community’s needs vary as we start to emerge from COVID, and some continue to prefer to view services from home. That option will be available to you as all the indoor services will be livestreamed. But for those that are ready to be in person, we are planning a variety of ways to worship together.

We have reached out to our Medical Advisory Group and have consulted with many of you as to your expectations and level of comfort in returning. We also reviewed the results of the Shabbat Services survey that you submitted in April. Conditions and comfort levels continue to evolve, advice on what is considered safe varies widely and there is no one size fits all.

With that said, we have carefully constructed a plan that we think meets the most needs. Below you will find the basic principles of our 2021 High Holiday program. More specific details will follow. Please note that all High Holiday plans are subject to change for the reasons of community safety.

While we will not be requiring proof of vaccination, we encourage all who attend to consider the safety of our Shomrei community. Congregants should consider their vaccination status and personal safety and the safety of others when signing up for the respective services – indoor or outdoor. Regardless of vaccination status, we ask that you do not attend if you feel ill or have any symptoms such as fever, coughing, etc.

If you are vaccinated, masks are optional for services. Unvaccinated participants must wear a mask.
We will require registration for all services to ensure that we can manage the capacity.

  • To ensure that we have capacity for Rosh Hashanah Days 1 and 2, Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur we will be conducting simultaneous services in the Social Hall and in a tent located in the back of the Red Cross parking lot. Both services will be shorter than usual to lessen the amount of time we are together and will contain the same traditional elements. The outdoor service will incorporate family participation to ensure inclusion of unvaccinated children but will parallel the content of the indoor service. The Rabbi will be leading the indoor service and Lily Lucey the outdoor service. We are expecting the Social Hall capacity to be at approximately 50%.
  • For Erev Rosh Hashanah, we will provide an indoor service only that will be livestreamed as well.
  • For the indoor service, vaccinated participants have the choice of whether or not to wear a mask. Unvaccinated participants may attend but are required to wear a mask. We will livestream this service as well and make the prayer books available for pickup during office hours.
  • For the outdoor service, vaccinated participants have the choice of whether or not to wear a mask. Unvaccinated participants may attend but must be masked. The outdoor service will not be livestreamed. We expect to be able to conduct services in the tent even if it is raining but will need to reevaluate if there are dangerous weather conditions.
  • Yizkor will be held both in the Social Hall and in the tent.
  • Tot Yom Tov services (preschool age) will take place in the tent as well as a safety precaution for those children who are unable to be vaccinated.
  • Teen Discussion will take place in the classrooms.
  • More information on Selichot and Neilah will be forthcoming.
  • Childcare will not be offered this year but weather permitting, we will have an alternate solution for young children.

Registration will launch in early August with exact service times and options. You must register in advance for a specific service and will not be permitted to attend in person without registering.

If you have any feedback or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to celebrating in our many ways at the High Holy Days.

L’shana tova,
Miriam Haimes, President

What do you think?