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Reopening update from the President

09/01/2021 09:50:03 AM


by Steve Dines

Dear Congregants,

I wanted to use this Voice piece to let you know what our reopening plans are through the end of 2021.

As many of you know, we held our High Holiday services under an 8000 square foot canopy in the CBJ parking lot.  We had wonderful levels of attendance on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive, not just about the steps we took to make worshippers feel safe, but also the magical experience of worshipping outdoors!

The High Holidays is a time for friends to reconnect with each other and getting together after a two-year interval was wonderful.  Watching the sunset while sitting under the canopy on Kol Nidrei was an experience that I will not soon forget!  From our knowledge of the High Holiday activities of other shuls in the Bay Area, we can tell you that CBJ’s High Holiday arrangements were truly groundbreaking in the way in which we accomplished bringing a large number of people together while keeping them safe.

The plan post-high holidays is to retain a 4,000 square foot canopy in the parking lot that can be used for outdoor services, classrooms for our schools and a variety of other outdoor functions.

However, we realize that the weather may not be as cooperative as we approach the winter months, and we also realize that indoor services are becoming more feasible as the COVID news improves.

After extensive discussion with both the COVID committee and the board, our short-term policy is to hold services outdoors, with a capability to move indoors, due to inclement weather, at short notice.

To be able to do this, we need to implement a protocol that can work for both outdoors and indoors, to minimize disruption for our clergy, staff, and congregants.

To summarize, our goals for this policy are:

A. To allow for the use of outdoor locations whenever possible
B. To allow a seamless move indoors at short notice when weather demands
C. To minimize last-minute pressures on B’nei Mitzvah families, our staff, and clergy 
D. To allow B’nei Mitzvah families to celebrate their lifecycle event with their relatives and non-congregant guests

The Near-Term policies are as follows:

All services and functions will be outdoors unless there is inclement weather or poor air quality – the decision to move indoors will be made by Executive Director and Senior Rabbi.

Masking will remain mandatory both indoors and outdoors.

The Traditional Service will be outdoors under the Canopy, and if moved indoors will be in the Sanctuary.

Torah Study, Junior Congregation and Power Hour will take place on the Beit Aseifa patio, and if moved indoors will be in the Chapel.

Kiddish lunches will remain outside on patios at all times.

Service Leaders and B’nei Mitzvah Celebrants:
All service leaders, including B’nei Mitzvah principals, will have a COVID rapid antigen test the day of. They will be permitted to remove masks when at the bimah.
Congregants and Guests:
To attend in person all congregants and guests must be vaccinated or submit to a rapid antigen test provided by CBJ upon arrival.  This policy applies to everyone old enough to receive a vaccine.
Social Events:
Social events, including B’nei Mitzvah parties, dance parties, etc. are not permitted indoors at CBJ without express permission from the Executive Director.

Longer Term

Many of you will have read this week that the Bay Area counties have implemented a new indoor policy that relaxes indoor masking. To relax these conditions, each county must meet certain criteria.  Best estimates are that most of the Bay Area, including San Mateo, are expected to meet the conditions for this relaxation by the end of 2021.
Given this trend, and given the winter weather, we are actively exploring moving all services indoors (initially with masks). As a component of this we need to monitor the appetite of you, our congregants, for such a move.  We will be seeking input from our congregants via a survey, so I would ask you to respond promptly to any communications you receive from CBJ.

We appreciate any and all feedback you wish to provide.

With gratitude,

Steve Dines
Thu, September 28 2023 13 Tishrei 5784