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TBE COVID-19 Guidelines

Adopted June 28, 2020

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. Of note this guideline is more conservative than that published by the state of Virginia. 

As more data is made available, these guidelines may be evaluated and adjusted.

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.

A note on singing: One of the most challenging things for us to think about as a community has been the particular risks of singing. There is still a lot we don’t know, and research is ongoing. However, several studies have demonstrated that the aerosolized particles released when we sing are significantly more than when we talk and cannot safely be contained with a cloth mask. 

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.

As of June 28, 2020, Temple Beth-El is following Stage Aleph (1) or “safer at home” guidelines. All activities are preferentially online. Activities that must take place in person are limited to 10 people outdoors and 6 people indoors under strict social distancing guidelines. 


Requirements for Stage Bet (2)

Criteria: Average of 5% or less COVID-19 positive test results for at least 14 days in the county of Henrico and the City of Richmond. This guidance is based on the World Health Organization’s May 12, 2020 guidance located here.

Note: A 5% positive test rate means that, statistically speaking, we must assume that 1 person in every 20 is infected (and may be asymptomatic). In a group of 50 people, 2-3 people on average are likely infected.

To determine when we meet the WHO’s guidance, we have elected to use the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) data that is published here.

Along with establishing the criteria for re-opening, we have adopted the committee’s recommendations regarding how to conduct Beth-El activities. Included among these are: 

  1. Protective Equipment. All attendees must wear a mask. All attendees to use gloves when touching common objects.
  2. Distance. Attendees to remain 10’ apart and encouraged to kindly remind others that may forget.  Exception: those who live together may sit together.
  3. Risks of Singing. Singing has been known to increase the risk of transmission of infection.  If singing or chanting is necessary, the singer shall be ideally positioned at least 20 feet from other participants (but in no circumstance be within 10 feet). 
  4. Ushers. Usher(s) will direct attendees to seats that comply with these guidelines.
  5. Hygiene and Cleaning. All attendees to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer before and after the gathering. Rooms to be disinfected and/or allowed to be vacant for >24 hours prior to the events. Bathrooms will be available for emergency use only.
  6. Contact Tracing. Unless restricted for legal or privacy reasons, organizer to confirm names of attendees and send to TBE Executive Director.
  7. Pre-registration. Attendance will require pre-registration on a first come, first served basis with exception that preference be given to members who are post B’nai Mitzvah so that the requirements of a minyan may be met and to best ensure compliance with activity guidelines.
  8. Reduced exposure time. Post-event socializing is discouraged. Food will not be served. In-person services will be limited to 1 to 1.5 hours.
  9. Vulnerable people. Those who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and those who suspect exposure are encouraged to participate via online broadcasts.
  10. Self-Screening. All attendees should self-screen using the following 4 questions.

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.

Thu, January 21 2021 8 Shevat 5781