I am happy to finally be able to reach out to everyone. Since I also have been unable to update you in my almost four months as president, I will try to bring you up to date. I would first like to thank the Rabbi, Cantor, the Board, and all who help make our Temple run on a daily basis. You cannot imagine the amount of work that has being going on as we try to keep moving forward through this pandemic.
I am very excited about our Yom Kippur afternoon service. We will hold a live service (open to everyone in the community) at the JCC, outside in the parking lot. Services will begin at 5:30 p.m. with Yizkor, followed immediately by Neilah ending approximately 7:00 p.m. You will be able to sit socially distanced up front, near the stage; sit socially distanced next to your car; or you can stay in your car and listen on your radio, as we will be broadcasting the audio on your car radio. Bring your own chair or contact us if you will be walking and cannot bring your own chair. When you arrive at the parking lot, please look for an usher to guide you to a parking spot and help you tune in your radio, if needed. We do request that you arrive by 5:30 so that we can line up cars and be ready for the start of the service. This service will also be broadcast online for those who do not attend. We are very excited about being able to gather together for this service.
Hopefully everyone is now aware of our improved technology. Under the leadership of Joe Mitchneck, during his presidency, we started broadcasting services live as a means to reach those who could not attend services. It put us in a great position to take that to the next level when Covid-19 struck and we stopped gathering together. Over the past few months, we have continued to improve our technology with the addition of new equipment and improved content. All of our High Holiday services will be broadcast, which will include some pre-recorded participation by congregants. We will continue to work to improve what we can offer, and after the holidays will turn our attention to trying to incorporate participation from home as part of our services. It seems that many are still not aware of all that we broadcast live. This includes all of our daily minyan services; our Shabbat services; havdalah with the Kaplans; learning through Torah in 10; and my son Jack’s favorite, Tot Shabbat. We broadcast all weddings and funerals as well. Our Midrasha school continues just as strong live, on-line. We are very encouraged by the number of people watching on a daily basis. I encourage all of you to tune in more often and believe you will be pleasantly surprised. Our live video can now be accessed through our website. We are currently broadcasting only through Facebook. If anyone wants to watch, but does not have or want Facebook access, please contact us and we will make it work for you. As those of you who regularly”attend” know, the chat box in the Facebook feed provides us an opportunity to feel each other’s presence, at a time when we cannot see each other. Please leave a message or at least say hi every time you watch so that we know you engaged as part of our community. The plan is to continue broadcasting all programs even after we are able to attend live services in our beautiful synagogue. If you have any questions or need any help with technology, we have set up a technology committee. Contact us and we will help you with anything you need. Need a device to watch? We can provide one for you. Need wifi? We can help you get it. Need help making the video work? We can help! Need help making your setup better? Call us. Did you know you may be able to watch services on your TVs?
Though still under construction, we have also just launched our new website. You can find it at templewb.org. (Of course, those of you reading this on our website already know this). Our website will become the place to access everything Temple Israel. You will be able to access live video; access all old videos; see all upcoming events and schedules; make a donation or pay your bill by credit card on a SECURE connection; and much more. A special thanks to Jane Messinger for all her work on creating the new website. Jane has volunteered countless hours to make the website easy to use and much more pleasant to view.
The lingering question remains of when and how can we return live to Temple. Be assured that our worship committee, under the leadership of Debbie Troy, meets regularly to evaluate and prepare for our return. We continue to develop protocols for safety. This includes having fully measured out and charted our seating area so that we can follow the recommended social distancing. (Thanks Janet and Mark Finkelstein for all that work) At this time, the Board has decided reevaluate our circumstances after the holidays have ended. I will continue to keep you updated on any decisions. We appreciate your patience as we try to balance the desire to return with the safety issues that can be caused with a return. We do encourage people with any doubts to stay home even after we initially reopen to live congregants. I am sure we all wish we were in the Temple fighting to find space in all our usual seats, and hopefully we will be back there soon, safely.
Meanwhile, I hope to see all of you signed into the video services, and many of our friends and families live at our Yom Kippur afternoon service at the JCC. L’Shana Tova. Stay safe, healthy and happy in these trying times.