Communal crises were not unknown to our ancestors. They discussed the challenges of maintaining Jewish life and observance during times of war, plague, famine and the like. These times are known as sha'at d’khak, times of crisis. And in each of those cases, based on the verse in Leviticus 18:5, that states "You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD”. At the same time, our ancestors ruled that pekuah nefesh, the saving of a life, supersedes all of the commandments.
We are certainly living in a time where these two values are guiding our decision making. We at Beth Tzedec, following the guidelines of public health experts and authorities, will refrain from public gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes religious services, classes, programs and life-cycle events.
We expect that we will be isolated for the foreseeable future and we've made plans for how we can use technology to continue to be spiritually nearwhile maintaining social distance.
We are suspending all in-person services.
Daily services will be offered via Zoom at the regularly scheduled times, with the exception of Friday Minhah, which will be hosted at 4:00 p.m. Since our minyan is virtual, we will not be reciting those prayers that typically require 10 people.
However, since this is sha’at d’khak, a time of crisis, we will recite the Mourner’s Kaddish in its entirety. For those who might prefer an alternative, we will make available the Rabbinical Assembly’s "Prayer in Place of Mourner's Kaddish".
Find links to join our daily services here>>
We will not be hosting or streaming Shabbat services. We invite you to join us for a weekly "Watch Party" on the Beth Tzedec Facebook page every Friday at 6:00 p.m. for a musical Kabbalat Shabbat experience. We encourage you to join us virtually and to pray Ma'ariv or personal prayers privately at home.
We will also host Havdalah on Facebook Live at the times indicated on our website calendar.
Programs, Events & Learning Opportunities
We are suspending all in-person programs and events. This means that some of our programs will be postponed while others will be available online. We're working on updating our website calendar with information about the programs we'll be moving online, so please check back regularly.
We are also developing a number of new online-only programs to help us stay connected while practicing social distancing. These include online Healing Services, programs for children and families and opportunities to learn from our spiritual leadership and our community.
All of our current classes and learning opportunities will move online. This includes our Monday Night Learning classes and the upcoming semester of Lishma. If you are registered for any of these classes, you will recieve an email shortly with more information.
Families who have planned smahot that are to take place in the next two months will be contacted and we will do our best to support you in making alternate plans.
We are commited to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community. Therefore, we are suspending in-person bikkur holim and shiva visits. We will continue checking in on our members over the phone. Our top priority is ensuring that responsible social distancing doesn't result in feelings of social isolation.
If you or someone you know is in need of conversation or support, our spiritual, professional and lay leadership is here for you on the phone or online. Contact any one of us directly and we will respond.
If you would like to volunteer to call members of our community who would benefit from such outreach, contact Rosalie Hartenberg Watson and we will help put you in touch with someone.
Should there be a need for funerals, we will officiate at graveside ceremonies and practice social distancing. We strongly encourage families to limit participants to immediate mourners and their families.
Shiva visits should be held on the phone or with video conferencing technology. Families reciting Kaddish may join us for our regularly scheduled minyanim via Zoom.
If you would like to access the building for private prayer, meditation or a one-on-one meeting with a member of our leadership, our doors are open.
We know that Passover is coming and is a source of anxiety for all of us, regardless of what's happening in the world. As we consult with our colleagues and consider the opportunities to approach the holiday during this sha’at d’khak, we will communicate our recommendations.
A Final Word
Despite the anxiety surrounding COVID-19, we would like to end on an optimistic note. Scientists the world over are working on vaccines and other remedies. An extraordinary number of people in our community, country and around the world are cooperating to slow the spread of the virus and to address the social and economic impact it will have. It is uplifting to witness the kindness that we are showing each other.
El na refah na la – May the source of Healing heal us. May God grant the medical professionals, scientists, civil servants and leaders of government the wisdom to guide us through this challenging time. And may God grant us the patience, wisdom and inspiration to draw nearer to God, to Torah, to each other and to the values that help us to live meaningful Jewish lives.
Rabbi Steven Wernick, Senior Rabbi
Debbie Rothstein, President
Bernie Gropper, Chair of the Board
Randy Spiegel, Executive Director