TBE Building Opening and High Holy Day Update

Dear Friends,

Temple Beth El’s Clergy, Staff, and Board have been vigilant about upholding Judaism’s highest priorities of sustaining life and health during COVID-19. Through phone trees, Zoom social gatherings, online worship, education, and community offerings, you have warmly embraced and supported each other through this pandemic.  We thank you for supporting Temple with your donations of time, energy, resources, and effort. We thank you for continuing to support our decisions to keep the Temple building closed until such a time we can all enter safely and responsibly.

Opening the Building, Lifecycles, Worship, and Education
Our leadership has met with an infectious disease specialist and held discussions with medical professionals, legal counsel, and our Shalom Park partners to determine a safe path forward for opening our building. Unfortunately, every expert is in agreement that the first wave of the pandemic has not yet ended and there continues to be a high level of concern as infections rise. With this in mind, Temple Beth El’s Board of Directors has decided to keep Temple’s building closed to the public through the month of August. The Board has also instructed the clergy to officiate at all lifecycle’s online, to protect clergy and the community, and to ensure continuity of care to the congregation.

Fall plans for in-person Shabbat worship, education, lifecycles, and Temple engagement efforts will be re-evaluated based on the shifting nature of the pandemic. Our new Director of Lifelong Jewish Learning, Rabbi Beth Nichols, started her position last week and is already working with her team on plans for Religious School learning for the Fall. We will update more in the coming weeks.

We know that these decisions may create challenges for some of our families around what are already highly emotional decisions to reconsider and reshape lifecycle ceremonies and celebrations. We will continue to work with each family to create beautiful, personal, and meaningful experiences that allow unlimited virtual attendees and deep participation by the clergy. Our clergy, staff, and lay leaders will continually monitor the recommendations from medical and legal experts and local and state health officials.  With their input, the Board will re-evaluate the options for opening the building and conducting lifecycle events on a monthly basis. If you have any questions, please contact our Business Manager, Dan Shane.

High Holy Days

The Board of Directors, in consultation with the clergy, has reached the very difficult and unanimous decision that September will be too soon to welcome large numbers of people into our building.  This means that in-person High Holy Day services as we have traditionally known them will not take place this year.  Nevertheless, we are committed to providing deeply spiritual, soul-filling alternatives  Our team is now developing customized High Holy Day opportunities for you at home, with your needs and reality in mind. This will not be just another Zoom. We will offer meaningful opportunities for all of our members and guests, at every stage of life. We are committed to reshaping the challenge of this moment to celebrate the season in new and dynamic ways. Together, we will still be able to experience the sacred and familiar elements of the High Holy Days and do the spiritual work of the season.  You will hear more about the unfolding plans in future Temple Beth El Communications and be on the lookout for our online High Holy Day portal: www.tbecltgateway.com.

In the weeks leading up to the High Holy Days, our tradition encourages us to ask questions of ourselves: What changes will we make in the year ahead?  With whom do we actively seek forgiveness?  Have we acted in accordance with the best that is within us and with our faith?  The sound of the shofar reminds us to reconnect with our inner goodness and with God. The Days of Awe help us to find the strength to overcome life’s challenges and obstacles. Temple Beth El has always been more than a building or an experience, we are a vital community. Above our Ark, we read:

אָכֵן יֵשׁ יי בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה
Surely, God is in this Place

These words inspire us to look for the Divine wherever we are, whether it is in our homes, in our sanctuary, or in the broader community. Regardless of location, we can support one another, pray together, grow together, and seek a fairer and more just world. Remember, you are never alone.

Rabbi Asher Knight
Benjamin Benson,  President