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COVID-19 Synagogue Protocols

After months of doing our part to promote social distancing by keeping the shul closed, New York City has reached phase two of the state's phased reopening plan.  Therefore we are moving forward with plans to reopen the Young Israel of Pelham Parkway for the upcoming Shabbat, and we hope to resume morning services some time this week as well.  If you are interested in attending services during the week, please be in touch with Rabbi Keil so we can make appropriate plans.

While we are thrilled at the progress our region has made in the battle against COVID-19, we also need to understand that the risk of infection is not yet eliminated, and we all need to continue to do our part as we slowly resume our routines.

Our approach to resuming services is three-pronged.  Our first goal is to make sure that no one infected with COVID-19 comes to services.  This is the reason we have waited until the level of infection in the broader community is low enough that it is statistically unlikely that any one of us is infected.  Nevertheless, we ask you to be diligent about observing your own health for the sake of others.  If you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or otherwise do not feel well, please do not come to shul until your symptoms clear and you speak to your doctor.  To learn more about common symptoms of COVID-19, visit the CDC's website by clicking here.

We must also realize that even if we make our best efforts to monitor our health, COVID-19 often is asymptomatic, but an asymptomatic carrier can still make others sick.  Therefore, our second goal is to create a situation in the synagogue such that even if G-d forbid someone in the congregation is infected, our social distancing measures will prevent others from contracting the disease.  Many seats will be marked off as prohibited so that we will easily be able to sit at least eight feet from one another.  Masks will be required for all those entering the building.  We will have masks available at the entrances, but please try to bring a mask from home if possible.  Everyone will be required upon entry to the building to wash hands with soap or to use hand sanitizer that will be available at the entrances.  We also will do what we can to minimize the length of services, and ask that people refrain from socializing before or after services, and there will be no kiddush, so as to minimize the time we spend together for the time being.  With all of these steps in place, we are confident that we can create a situation in which the virus will not be spread.

That said, it is clear that even though things are getting better in our region, and we will do our utmost in terms of social distancing, there is still some risk to leaving your homes at this time.  It is important that no one feel pressured to come to services if they feel unsafe.  Also, the CDC has cautioned that for people over the age of 65, or people with various pre-existing medical conditions, including lung issues, heart issues, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and people with suppressed immune systems, are at higher risk of life threatening complications if G-d forbid they contract COVID-19.  If you or someone in your household falls into one of those categories, please consult your doctor before making the decision to come to shul.

When we made the difficult decision to close the shul for Shabbos, our expectation was to be closed for a week or two and then to resume as business as usual.  Clearly we will not be back to business as usual for some time.  But as things continue to improve, we are happy to be starting off together on the long march back to normal.

Sat, July 11 2020 19 Tammuz 5780