We want to let you know what work is being done to move us towards having services in-person. We appreciate your continued patience and flexibility as we navigate COVID-19 together. Most of you have made the switch to virtual programming smoothly. For some, including me, this process has had a steep learning curve and perhaps involved some frustrations, reluctance or resistance. Regardless of your comfort level with Zoom, most of us are itching to get back to having in-person activities and services.
Your safety and well-being remain our top priority and we will continue to make decisions based on facts and science. Our COVID-19 Task Force, Reopening Task Force, and Governing Board all agreed to use value-based decision making and to prioritize the values of pikuach nefesh (the sanctity of life), inclusiveness, and equity. These values continue to inform our COVID-19 related decisions.
The COVID-19 Task Force has been busy tracking the continuously changing recommendations and guidelines from federal, state, and local authorities and the emerging science and understanding of this virus. The Reopening Task Force has been busy translating those recommendations into practical, implementable, and enforceable protocols. The Governing Board has been busy processing this information into an action plan that will keep us all safe and keep the community together.
As a first step in regathering the Governing Board has approved the following initial plan:
- We will continue to encourage all who are eligible to be vaccinated to do so.
- The congregation will begin to regather for in-person services with masking and social distancing required.
- Our procedures will include requiring reservations to attend services and limiting attendance in the sanctuary at this time to 55 to ensure that we can achieve social distancing.
- We will continue to use contact tracing protocols and have hand sanitizer readily available.
- We will be asking health related self-attestation questions upon entry.
- In-person Board Greeters will undergo additional training prior to our beginning this in-person regathering.
- Our goal is for all services held in the sanctuary to also be live streamed.
- Proof of vaccination will not be required at this time.
- We will continue to update our protocols based on recommendations and guidelines from federal, state and local authorities.
This has been challenging work but we feel confident that our plan will keep our diverse community safe and connected. We appreciate everyone’s passions about these issues. It shows that we care about the health and safety of our members, and we value and want to preserve our community.
We are doing our best to lead our community down the road to a safe and joyful reopening. While we are in a great hurry to regather, we are limited by several factors such as negotiating with song leaders, getting our tech in place, and figuring out the systems needed to support our safety protocols.
Please plan to join us on Zoom at the June 13 Membership Meeting for updated information on this topic. Your continued patience and support is greatly appreciated.
Wishing all a safe and healthy summer,
On behalf of the Board,
Melanie Field, President
I am a very lucky President – TBO has an amazing governing board and I get to work with them! We begin each monthly board meeting with a sharing question. The question in April was “What are some positive changes or new habits you are hoping to take with you from the past year of COVID into the future?” Their answers were so inspiring and interesting I am going to share them, with their permission but anonymously, with all of you.
In no particular order these new habits, skills, and routines included:
- meal planning and eating at home
- baking bread
- taking piano lessons
- serious decluttering
- more reading
- instituting a weekly family movie night
- taking a daily walk
- having quieter/less busy weekends
- learning how to use video platforms comfortably
- regular/frequent family Zoom calls
- having more patience with oneself, more grace, practicing self love
- treasuring time with kids
- loving working from home – more efficient work environment and less time spent commuting!
- stopped wearing a watch and started wearing extra comfy hiking socks every day
- connecting more with family
- driving less
- more time spent gardening
- self care
- more relaxation
- building better communities, becoming an ally for social change and imagining a better world
Some of these are ordinary daily activities and some are more profound. Maybe you already have or will try working one or more of these ideas into your life. Whether it is one of the items listed above or something else, see if you can think of something that you are doing differently now during pandemic time that you would like to try to keep in your life, even when we get beyond these pandemic times. It is healing to take a moment to find something to be grateful for in these difficult times. New healthy fulfilling habits can be a point of pride and gratitude.
Wishing all a summer filled with hope and gratitude,
As we begin to emerge from these hard COVID times I know I am not alone in reflecting on the positive practices I have taken on this past year. I have been thinking about those things that I would like to integrate into my life as I move forward. I am typically a goal-oriented person but I have found myself enjoying things in a more playful way the past fourteen months. Perhaps I will have the chance to sing How Can I Tell You, the Cat Stevens song I took time to learn last month, but I did not learn it to share. I learned it just because. Simply for myself.
Our Jewish tradition encourages learning for the sake of learning. This value is called Torah lishma. It is not surprising that the brilliant modern Talmud scholar and philosopher, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (1933-2020), had “what to say” about this value. He admits that his area of study and passion, the Babylonian Talmud, has little practical use today, and that many of the situations it described were even obscure in ancient times. Despite this it is a Jewish tradition to study the Talmud in its entirety and Talmud study has only grown in popularity. While Talmud study has been a centerpiece of Jewish learning since the early medieval period, participation in the daily page of Talmud study has become widespread across the Jewish spectrum with the modern innovation of podcasts. Taking on the entire Talmud is a commitment. If one studies a page a day it takes seven and a half years to get through all sixty-three tractates. People do this simply for the sake of learning.
Rabbi Steinsaltz taught that Torah lishma is essential to our unique theology as Jews. While most religions have expectations about belief and about doing the right things, they do not obligate one to study. We study our sacred texts as an independent activity that is not directly connected with belief or action.
Jewish tradition holds curiosity as a high value and that angels are not curious because they already have knowledge. Whether we choose to study Torah, Talmud, music, art, or animal husbandry, if we study them simply for the sake of learning, we are celebrating what makes us essentially human.