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COVID-Guidelines - Weekly Updates

 

Dear Beth Jacob Community,

We have been carefully monitoring the pandemic as the Delta variant has made its way to our area. We take great pride in how our community has remained vigilant, gotten vaccinated, and adhered to protocols so that we can confirm that our shul has not aided in the spread of COVID. We take comfort in knowing how much our community has worked together to ensure our collective safety and are grateful for this continued partnership as we make this unfortunate but necessary update to our guidelines. 

In light of the CDC, State and County’s recent strong recommendations that all individuals wear masks indoors in areas of high or substantial COVID infection rates (Alameda County is currently ranked “high”), the BJC Reopening Committee has made the difficult decision to require masking of all individuals over the age of 2 – vaccinated or unvaccinated – while indoors on the BJC campus.

Preemptive precautions like this -often taken in Jewish communities where the value of human life is paramount -  have proven to be prudent, perhaps lifesaving, and hopefully a Kiddush HaShem, a sanctification of the Divine. 

New information about the Delta variant, “long COVID,” the duration of vaccine efficacy , transmissibility and other factors is complicated and sometimes contradictory, requiring us to be vigilant and flexible. We recognize that this decision will not please everyone – some of our members only feel comfortable at shul if everyone around them is masked, others feel safely vaccinated and question the necessity of their masking, and still others just aren’t physically comfortable wearing a mask. We appreciate that COVID has made all of our lives difficult in many ways and understand that this change in our policy may be disappointing.
 

Some information about Shabbat mornings:

  • Leyners, Shlichei Tzibur, and speakers may be unmasked from the bimah as long as social distancing is observed and everyone else on the bimah is masked.

  • To that end, those leading prayer as well as Torah reading will return to the front of the sanctuary. 

  • We will continue to host Kiddush outdoors.

  • We encourage members who need to take a “mask break” to do so; women may step into the yard and men can exit the building by the side door near the small sanctuary.

  • We will continue to have limited seating available in the yard for people who prefer to maintain more social distance.

  • The balcony will be open and restricted to fully vaccinated, masked individuals only.

 

We understand that for some congregants this decision might seem like a step backwards, but in the complicated swirl that is this pandemic, we are grateful that this change around masking will allow us to continue to join together in an otherwise “normal” way. We look forward to relaxing these protocols as soon as case rates in Alameda County return to the levels of May and June of this year (consistent with CDC guidance around local levels of transmission and masking). In the meantime, we continue to do everything we can to mitigate risk within our community while maintaining our ability to daven and build community together.

 

Wishing everyone well –

Rabbi Gershon Albert

Rabbi Shua Brick

Anna Bencuya, GMT Director

Lilly Krenn, Executive Director

Jay Goldman

Phil Ross

Deborah Sosebee

Lauren Wilner

 

Tue, August 3 2021 25 Av 5781