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March 17, 2020:  Covid-19 Update from Rabbi Mike

Chevreh ("community of friends")-

The Hebrew word for community is kehillah. It is related to the root k-h-l, which means "to assemble" or "to call together."

My teacher, Rabbi Les Bronstein, always taught me, "bring 'em close." What is so heartbreaking is that, right now, I cannot physically call you together. This goes against every fiber of my being, and against millennia of Jewish tradition.

So, first things first: why keep us apart? The answer is that pikuach nefesh, saving a life, is a primary Jewish responsibility.  Mitzvot like praying with a minyan and work restrictions on Shabbat take a back seat to the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh.  Right now, keeping our distance from each other is the best way to save lives.  It is important to remember that even if I am asymptomatic, I can still spread the virus. COVID-19 is highly contagious, and there is no cure. The death rate for people in their 70s is about ten percent, and the death rate for people age 80 and over is between 15 and 20 percent. God forbid we contribute to those numbers.

So, to keep everyone safe, here is what I am asking right now:

  • Do not come to any meetings, classes, or services at CBE. All programming for adults and children will be by Zoom.
  • Do not come to the building, except for vital purposes. If you must come to retrieve personal items, please wash your hands before and after, and limit your time in the building.
  • The office remains open, at least for now. Please do not come in to do any business with Ezra or Lori. They can be reached by email for all CBE business
  • If you are 70 and over, please stay home and limit any travel only to critical needs.  If you need any assistance whatsoever, please let our remarkable Chesed team help you.  This is not a time to be proud.  It is a time to stay safe, so that we can be with you for many years to come.

Logistically, here's how we will proceed:

  • Minyan will be happening Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 4 PM.  I will be leading the minyan from my own Zoom account: https://zoom.us/j/9177106006.  Ezra has copied the weekday minyan service from Siddur Hadash as a PDF (please click here).
  • Instead of my weekly drop-in at Acton Coffee House, I will be "hosting" a weekly "Coffee Talk" on Wednesdays at 11, also from my own Zoom account.  Join me tomorrow for a little check-in.  I'll teach a bit of Torah, but mostly it'll be to say hi. Bring your favorite coffee mug!
  • Tonight's class, The Book of Our Lives: Journeys Through the Jewish Prayerbook, will be via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/647406612; password: 452981.  We will be using Siddur Lev Shalem for Friday night services (please click here).

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to our amazing staff and board volunteers.  Their dedication during this time has been nothing less than extraordinary.

The Jewish people have survived as long as we have with wisdom and love.  While we cannot make community in person right now, I am confident that this shul will continue to build community, through wisdom and love, for many years to come.

Further details for upcoming events will be in tomorrow's Starlite.

 

B'ahavah,

Rabbi Mike

Tue, April 7 2020 13 Nisan 5780