Sign In Forgot Password

TBE COVID-19 Guidelines

Revised April 8, 2021

Neither we nor any organization can guarantee individuals’ health and safety, and ultimately individuals must make individual decisions about whether to assume the risk of attending any synagogue events or programs and must be responsible for taking their own precautions.  Nonetheless, in accordance with the Jewish values below we have chosen to align with the World Health Organization’s May 12, 2020 guidelines that before reopening rates of positivity in testing should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14-days.  This guideline is more conservative than that published by the state of Virginia. 

Update for Spring 2021: As vaccines for the Covid-19 virus become readily available, and in accordance with the Jewish values outlined below, Temple Beth-El encourages our members to consider being vaccinated if at all possible.

As more data is made available, these guidelines may be evaluated and adjusted. The President in consultation with the Chair of the Health & Safety Committee may make adjustments to the details of this guidance from time to time.

Many organizations have developed value statements to guide their response to covid-19. Ours are adapted from Congregation Bet Haverim of Atlanta, GA, one of the earliest we referenced. Their full document can be found here.

Guiding Jewish values and teachings:

  • Pikuah nefesh / saving a life - safety of both staff and congregants, as well as the general public health. 
  • Inclusion - we strive for access to our offerings for all community members
  • Do not put a stumbling block before the blind - we recognize our hunger to be together, and are mindful of crafting environments that support safe individual behaviors. If we find that when we gather, individuals are unable to adhere to safety guidelines, we may need to adjust the guidelines or even return to virtual gatherings, removing the proverbial stumbling block.
  • Kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh - We are all responsible for one another.

We lean into savlanut, patience, to help us bear the burden of this time. 
We lean into chesed, loving kindness, as we seek out new and creative ways to show love to our neighbors and ourselves. 
We look for the good, hakarat hatov, even when it is harder to find than the afikomen.


Temple Beth-El is currently in Stage Gimmel as of April 8, 2021

Requirements for Stage Gimmel

Criteria: See table below. Note we use the higher of either City of Richmond and Henrico positive PCR test rates.

In order to allow for simcha planning, the effective date of the criteria being met is three weeks prior to an event. Meaning, for an event scheduled on April 22nd, the % Positivity rate would be checked on April 1st.

  • Attendance is based on using the Sanctuary; attendance in other spaces to be determined. See below for outdoor attendance.
  • A family group is defined as persons who live together.
  1. Pre-registration: Temple Beth-El events require pre-registration on a first come, first served basis
  2. Outdoor events: The cap for outdoor gatherings for non-vaccinated people is up to 50 family groups as long as the space can accommodate social distancing guidelines.  The Clergy and certain designated individual staff / service leader(s) who have been fully vaccinated do not count towards this cap.
  3. Indoor events: The cap for indoor services in the sanctuary is per the table found in the “criteria” section above. Other spaces will be evaluated based on the type of event and size of the space.
  4. Masks. All attendees shall wear masks at all times with exception of a service leader actively engaged in religious ritual (e.g. leading the service) as exempted by Executive Order 72, Section II.E.7. Due to continued scientific uncertainty regarding whether a vaccinated individual can still spread the virus, service leaders who are singing/chanting should wear a mask unless shielded by plexiglass, however, when speaking, no mask is required.
  5. Service leaders. Any adult leading the service or on the bimah shall be vaccinated or have undergone a 10-day quarantine period. Exceptions may be considered and may be approved by the President in consultation with the Chair, Health & Safety committee, particularly for B’nei Mitzvah children given the latest CDC guidance around lower risk for children.
  6.  Honorees. Aliyah and other honorees should not stand next to the service leader but rather maintain social distancing.
  7.  Singing indoors.
    • Due to the higher risk associated with singing indoors, to the maximum extent possible, attendees will not be within 20 feet (note: Executive Order 72 currently requires 10 feet) of a service leader when singing unless a plexiglass shield has been installed.
    • Attendees will be encouraged to participate in a muted way as opposed to full throated singing by the congregation.
    • To extent that religious ritual and the worship space requires, anyone required to be within 20 feet of a service leader who is singing should be vaccinated.
  8. Singing outdoors. Follow the indoor guidelines with exception of 10 feet distance.

  9. Seating. Family groups must practice 6’ minimum social distancing and be seated at least 6’ from other family groups.

  10. Cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces shall be completed prior to and following any religious service.
  11. Hand cleaner / sanitization stations will be provided at each entrance and exit.
  12. Post-event socializing is discouraged.
  13. No food will be served at any event pending adoption of specific guidelines around COVID food safety.
  14. Communal object use will be limited to prayer books and other porous objects. Metal objects such as Torah Yads will not be shared. Tallit may not have been worn in the last 24 hours. A “used Tallit” rack will be designated.


TBE Self-Screening Guidelines

You should not attend an event unless you answer  NO to all 4 of following questions:

  1. Is your temperature 100.4 or greater?
  2. Have you had exposure to a known or suspected patient with COVID-19?
  3. Have you traveled in the last two weeks to a known area with rapid spread of the virus
  4. Have you had symptoms of infection or in the last 10 days: Fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell/taste?

All attendees should self-screen prior to attendance. Event organizer may check solely that attendees are aware of the questions; no additional screening will be done by TBE representatives.

Sun, April 18 2021 6 Iyyar 5781