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Community You Can Believe In

For the latest on the coronavirus-19 outbreak, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/

As you know, this is a time for caution and prevention, as COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) continues to develop on a very fluid basis. See our latest update below.

For all the information for virtual services & classes, click here: https://www.bethelwesthartford.org/online

For our initial reopening guidelines, please click here.

June 30, 2020

Dear Beth El Family,
 
We are thrilled to announce our reopening of Beth El Temple for on-site morning services, beginning this Saturday morning, July 4th, at 10am, in the Sanctuary.
 
After that, starting Sunday July 5th, morning services will also be on-site: Sundays at 8:45am, and Mondays thru Fridays at 7am each morning, in the Chapel. We will continue to run our online services with Zoom (on weekdays) and livestream on YouTube (Shabbat morning) while we resume on-site as well.
 
Please refer to our email and letter to you last week for general guidelines. If you don’t have them please click here.
 
We have been careful throughout this pandemic, and have worked closely with our health and medical authorities to open for services at Beth El in a safe and cautious manner.

Who Can Come?

Anyone who believes they are 100% healthy.

If you have a cold, sniffles, cough, fever, sore throat — do not come. Please seek out the help of a health professional. Children are welcome to come, as long as they can sit, stay with their parent(s) — and wear a mask.

Who Cannot Come?

While we want to see each and every one of you, it's important to remember we are in the midst of a pandemic.

Besides the exclusion above, anyone who has any symptoms of Covid-19 or has been in contact with anyone who has Covid-19 within the last 14 days should not come until a two-week self-quarantine is over. Anyone having traveled from a state with high virus rates should also self-quarantine for 14 days before coming to Beth El for any reason.

Anyone who is at high risk (according the latest CDC guidelines — updated June 25th) also should not come. If you are unsure, please consult with your physician.

What do I have to do to come in?

You must have a mask on to come into the Temple, and you must keep the mask on during services. Gloves are recommended but not required. Please sanitize your hands before you come in and after you leave. The Temple has sanitizer for you just inside the front entrance. (If you need an additional mask after you get here, the Temple can provide one for you.)

Are there limits to how many can come in?

Yes, in accordance with guidelines from the state of Connecticut and our health officials, we cannot have more than 25 in the Chapel (not including service leaders), nor more than 100 in the Sanctuary (including service leaders). Once these limits are met, you will not be able to come in.

Other Considerations

Security? Normal security guidelines will take place. There will be a security professional present on Saturday mornings. During the rest of the week, the front door will be locked 18 minutes after the service begins (like the Zoom broadcasts are).
 
Prayer Books, etc.? We are using currently the Siddur Sim Shalom (full version) and will do so for a while. Please bring your own. If you don’t have one, we have many for you to use — but please leave it on your seat after the service so we can "disinfect" the book. All the books in the Temple (along with surfaces such as chairs, etc.) have been sanitized. We will NOT provide a tallit nor kippah—please bring your own.
 
Can I use the Temple bathrooms?  Yes, the bathrooms will have been cleaned before services and after. On Saturday mornings, they will be cleaned DURING services as well — please be courteous and understanding to our staff trying to clean them during services.
 
Where can I sit once I’m there? In the Chapel, you can sit only where there are books on the seats or by where books are in the racks. Several rows have seats on the end with multiple books in case a couple or family comes and they can sit on the end and on the white chairs next to the end. This is the same in the Sanctuary. With 600 seats and a maximum of 100 people (right now) — while there is plenty of room — you need to be at least 4 empty seats from the nearest person side-to-side and at least 1 row from other people both in front and behind you (both directional conditions apply).
 
Will there be a kiddush or lunch after services? Currently not, sadly to say.

Are other rooms in the Temple open for use?  As we’ve noted, the office is open. On Saturday mornings, please remain within the Sanctuary wing. Specifically, on Saturday mornings, the Community Room, Library, Chapel, and Kessler Hall are closed.

What about evening minyan? As we continue with our phased reopening, will we add on-site services for evening minyan when we feel it is appropriate.

 
This has been such a difficult time for everyone, and the traditional definitions of "Community" have changed for the whole world. However, praying together in person is still an integral and dynamic part of our Community You Can Believe In at Beth El. If you can, we would love to be with you (as social distancing can allow) and see you in person too. If you are not comfortable yet with all this, we’ll see you "online" until you are.
 
Stay safe and well,

Rabbi Jim Rosen

Judith Rosenthal, Congregational President

June 24, 2020

Dear Beth El Family,

We hope you are all well, staying healthy and safe. As we move forward through this pandemic together, we want to applaud you for your amazing support, enthusiastic participation in virtual services and programming, and emphasis on making connections with each other – and being a Community You Can Believe In.

Covid-19 is still a threat, especially for those among us who are most vulnerable. As the world around us begins to open up, we need to remember that restrictions are still in place: maintaining social distance (at least six feet apart), wearing a mask when you are out in the community, washing your hands often, and trying not to touch your face. These are not only ways we care for ourselves but how we care for one another.

We miss seeing our community together. Over the last few weeks, we have been moving forward with the phased reopening of our temple. We have been meeting continually and discussing preparations to ensure the most safe and secure protocols. Please know that our clergy and leadership are here for you during this time of crisis and that your health and safety are our chief concern.
 

While our offices have been open throughout this time, we are hoping to reopen our temple for religious services soon. The exact date will be determined soon.

We support anyone who is not comfortable coming to services and prefers to connect with us virtually. We will continue to provide online broadcasts of all our services as we move forward with onsite services.

We want you to continue to be part of our classes, services & community in a way that is comfortable and meaningful for you.

Please refer to our website or contact our office for instructions on accessing our evening minyan, Friday evening and Saturday morning services, Havdalah and class schedules and programs.

We are committed to continuing to update you on what we know, what we are doing, and what we suggest at this moment in time and going forward. While there are so many unknowns, we have done our best to prepare when even the near future has its questions.
 
We have been working closely with government protocols, public health and medical and legal professionals to open safely and in a protected manner. We also follow the CDC guidelines, The World Health Organization and Governor Lamont’s state mandates. One week ago, the West Hartford/Bloomfield Health District (WHBHD) officials inspected our building and our protocols and we received the “go-ahead” to open our building.

Guidelines for Our Initial Reopening

Requirement for Members to Attend:
•   Anyone who is not feeling well should not come to Beth El for any reason. If you feel you might have Covid-19, or any illness—with symptoms including (but not limited to): fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, cold, repeated sneezing, allergies that cause symptoms, please stay home and consult your physician.
•   Anybody who is considered high-risk should not attend minyan or services. Please consult your healthcare provider to determine if you are high risk.
•   Any child under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent and sit next to the parent for the duration of the service.
•   Masks will be required of anyone attending, starting at age 5. If you forget to bring your mask, the Temple can provide one for you.
•   Gloves are recommended, but are not mandatory. We strongly encourage you to wear gloves if you will be touching the podium on the bima. Please bring your own, and please throw them away after leaving Temple. We will have them on hand too if you wish.
•   Please use sanitizer upon arrival and departure from Temple, which we have as well.
•   The longer people congregate, the greater the risk of transmission of the virus. With that in mind, there will be some temporary modifications to limit the time you can be in Temple before, during and after services.
•   Seating in both the Chapel and Sanctuary will be at least six feet apart.

Religious Articles for You to Bring to Temple:
•   The Temple will NOT be providing a kippah, tefillin, nor a tallit for your use. Please bring your own.
•   The Temple has prayer books for your use, but if you can, please bring your own and take it home with you. The books will be cleaned before and after each use. If you use the Temple’s books, please leave them on your seat when you leave so we can know which ones to clean again.
Parking:
•   You may park anywhere in our lot. Please remain physically distanced, and do not congregate any closer than six feet with others.
•   Prior to getting out of your car, please put your mask on as you get ready to approach the building.
•   Every other parking space is recommended, but not mandatory.
Physical Configuration of the Building and Greeting:
•   There will be a security guard per usual for our regularly-scheduled times when Shabbat services are phased in.
•   Morning minyan will have a greeter at the door, as the front door will be locked for security reasons. You will be required to wear a mask. Gloves are optional but recommended.
•   You will be greeted with a wave, a hand to heart, smile and then directed to the Chapel.
•   Hand sanitizer and wipes station will be available at the front door.
•   All touch points such as doorknobs, railings, tables, books, bathrooms, light switches, seats and surfaces will be and have been sanitized multiple times a day.
•   Proper hand washing is critical, and that means lathering up with soap and warm water and then scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. You should wash your hands before and after leaving your home, or after you touch a surface in the synagogue. Hand sanitizer will also be in every bathroom for use after touching handles and using the facilities.
•   Sanitizing stations will be located in various areas in the building.
 
Chapel logistics and religious practices:
•   The West Hartford/Bloomfield Heath Department is currently allowing us 28 seats properly-distanced in our Chapel and 100 in the Sanctuary.  However, they have advised us that when larger capacity gatherings are granted by Gov. Lamont, our Sanctuary can hold more, and even more when we include the East Wing and Hoffman Hall. We will be adding these spaces for Shabbat usage (when we can have more people here.)
•   Upon arrival to the Chapel, you will be directed to your seat.
•   Social distancing of at least six feet will be enforced at all times
•   If you are attending with a loved one, you may sit together as directed by the greeter.
•   There will be no kissing or touching or walking around with the Torah.
•   The service leader will remove the Torah from the ark.
•   If you have an honor on the bima, you will do so by yourself as others on the bima will move away before and after your honor. We strongly encourage you to wear gloves if you will be touching the podium.
•   There will be no youth programs, nor gathering for Kiddush during this phase.
•   The main hallway water fountain is closed for usage (the water dispensers may be used). You may have your own beverage container for your own personal use (no sharing allowed).

Notices:
•   We have assembled a High Holiday Task Force to create a meaningful, safe, and wonderful celebration of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur some 2.5 months from now. Those services will likely be virtual only.
•   Based upon adherence to the appropriate health and government mandates, please plan for the possibility of cancellations of services, SULAM and programs at any time.

Please be assured that our clergy and leadership at Beth El are here for you during this time and that your health and safety is our chief concern. We are here for you, our members, our family. Call us any time, and likewise, we will be checking in with you.

 
Rabbi Jim Rosen                                      Judith Rosenthal
                                                                 Congregational President

Our Services are Online

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dear Beth El Family,

Thank you to everyone who tuned in last night to our livestream of evening minyan. We have been working hard to improve the online experience, and we're ready for tonight!

While services, SULAM and programs at Beth El are now cancelled through Sunday, April 5th, we are working to provide online opportunities for you. You can call into or log into our services and classes via Zoom (either the app or any web browser):
 
Sunday Morning Minyan (8:45am) — please click here for online video/audio computer or smartphone connection, or dial 1-646-876-9923 (wait) 646087702# for phone-only connection.

Weekday AM Minyan (7:00am) — please click here for online video/audio computer or smartphone connection, or dial 1-646-876-9923 (wait) 308913641# for phone-only connection.

Sunday-Thursday PM Minyan (7:30pm) — please click here for online video/audio computer or smartphone connection, or dial 1-646-876-9923 (wait) 871598464# for phone-only connection.

Friday Night Services (6:00pm) — please click here for online video/audio computer or smartphone connection, or dial 1-646-876-9923 (wait) 443707161# for phone-only connection.
 
Bible & Breakfast (8:00am Thursdays) — please click here for online video/audio computer or smartphone connection, or dial 1-646-876-9923 (wait) 872992957# for phone-only connection.
 
Also, we have an extraordinary amount of the last version of Siddur Sim Shalom that we could use for online services for the next few weeks. If you’d like to come by, beginning Thursday morning you can come in the front door and take one—they are right there, and then you can use that book to refer to for our services going forward "online".

We appreciate your patience as we learn this new form of online gathering.

Beth El Temple

Services Cancelled Effective Immediately

Friday, March 13, 2020 at 2:30pm

Dear Beth El family,

As you know, this is a time for caution and prevention, as COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) continues to develop on a very fluid basis. In less than an hour, it is anticipated that President Trump will declare a national emergency in the wake of the spreading virus.

After much consideration, we have decided to cancel all religious services, effective immediately, through Sunday, March 22nd. This is in addition to the cancellations previously announced.

There will be no Kabbalat Shabbat services this evening, nor will there be Shabbat morning services tomorrow, nor weekday morning and evening minyans. Please know this is a temporary cancellation, and we will continue to reevaluate the situation. As the situation develops and changes, we look forward to being able to resume our regular practices.

The Temple offices will be open throughout this period of time as normal (Monday-Thursday, 8:30am-5pm; Friday 8:30am-2:30pm). The professional staff is available as usual for your needs. As a precaution, hospital and nursing home visits by our clergy are being limited to emergencies only, under strict precautions mandated by the institutions to be visited. We will, of course, maintain telephone contact with ill members and their families.

We remain your spiritual home and will always be here for you. We are investigating ways to connect virtually for learning and communal "gatherings". Our audio message this week is available by clicking here. We face this challenge as a caring religious community bolstered by the values of our tradition and deep regard for each other. 

Please feel free to reach out to us with your thoughts, comments, hopes, and prayers. 

Wishing you all good health and blessings,
 
Rabbi Jim Rosen & Judith R. Rosenthal, President

SULAM on Haitus After WHPS Decision to Close

March 12, 2020

Shalom SULAM Families and Beth El Community!

Following the lead of our local public school system regarding cancellations and postponements, SULAM will take a hiatus. SULAM will not meet on Sunday, March 15th through Sunday, March 29th.

We will keep you apprised with updates.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Shabbat Shalom,
 
Michelle

Michelle Konigsburg
Director, SULAM
Beth El Temple
West Hartford, CT
860-233-9891

Coronavirus Precautions at Beth El

March 12, 2020

The Beth El Board of Trustees and clergy have carefully considered our responsibility to our members, to our families, our position in the community, and our mission as well, as it relates to how the virus impacts all operations of the Temple. The Board of Trustees decided at its monthly meeting last night, that through April 5th, Beth El Temple is cancelling or postponing all events outside of regularly scheduled services, SULAM, and life-cycle events (Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and/or (sadly) funerals). A list of such interrupted events is below. We are sanitizing as much of the Temple as possible 3 times per day, including door knobs, bathrooms, water coolers, etc. 

Additionally, we are taking extra precautions, and Beth El is not serving any “communal food” during this period of time. With that in mind, besides the events listed below, we will NOT be providing nor having Kiddush (nor lunch) on Saturdays March 14th nor March 21st. On these two dates, Mincha will take place at 12:15pm in the Chapel, directly after the main morning services conclude. For the next 4 weeks (March 14-April 4), Saturday morning services will take place in the Sanctuary. In accordance with all agency recommendations, we ask you to “spread out” within our Sanctuary as best you can to keep space between each of us. Even during daily services, spreading out in the Chapel is beneficial for all.

Here is a list of cancelled/postponed/impacted events, scheduled to be held at Beth El, through April 5th (this list includes both Beth El and non-Beth El events scheduled to be held at the Temple):  

  • Pirkei Avot — cancelled March 14-April 4
  • Bible & Breakfast — cancelled March 19-April 16 (Passover weeks too)
  • Mazel Tots & Shabbat Club — will take place on Shabbat each week, but no food will be provided/served
  • KNITzvah — cancelled on March 15
  • Ulpan — cancelled March 16-April 1
  • Endowment Board, Finance Committee, Executive Committee Meetings — all cancelled through April 5
  • Lunch and Learn — cancelled March 17-March 31
  • BEMA Concert  — March 22 performance is postponed (and will be rescheduled in the summer); all rehearsals currently are cancelled.
  • Shababa — cancelled on March 20
  • Yoga — cancelled on March 21
  • Men’s Club Breakfast — cancelled on March 22
  • Schmoozers — cancelled on March 25 and April 1
  • Music Recital — cancelled on March 26
  • Family Service & Lunch — cancelled on March 28
  • JCL Program — cancelled on March 29
  • Horseradish — making/sale/distribution is cancelled for this year
  • Talmud Study — cancelled March 11-April 1
  • Israel Program: Updates From Israel #1 — cancelled on April 2
  • USY Dinner — cancelled on April 3
  • B’nai Jeshurun-style Shabbat Service — cancelled on April 3


Again, daily and Shabbat services will continue as normally scheduled, as well as SULAM. Also, all SULAM field trips are cancelled, and our learners are being “spritzed” with sanitizer (educators, too) on arrival (while supplies last). The Temple offices will be open throughout this period of time as normal. The professional staff is available as usual for your needs. As a precaution, hospital and nursing home visits by our clergy are being limited to emergencies only, under strict precautions mandated by the institutions to be visited. We will, of course, maintain telephone contact with ill members and their families.

We imagine that some of you may not be happy with some of these changes, but these are critical times for health concerns and we wish to act with an abundance of caution and consistent with current CDC and local mandates. We are encouraging you to actively stay safe as our leaders guide us, but know that we at Beth El are here for you in these difficult times, and please do call upon us if need be.

Here are also things you can continue to do to try and prevent exposure to the virus: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds - especially after visiting a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If you don't have soap and water, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Cover your entire hands and allow them to dry thoroughly.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow. Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands as noted above.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you are sick (until you are better). If you are a caretaker for someone who is sick, wear a facemask.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • At public events AND in all public places, please try and keep a distance of 3 to 6 feet between yourself and other people.

 
In addition, you can get additional information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

We all know that this current crisis is fluid and changes daily, and as such our practices will too. We will be in touch with you with the passage of time, and of course we hope that no one in our community will be affected by Coronavirus. We remain your spiritual home and will always be here for you. We face this challenge as a caring religious community bolstered by the values of our tradition and deep regard for each other.

Please feel free to reach out to us with your thoughts, comments, hopes, and prayers. 

Wishing you all good health and blessings,
 
Rabbi Jim Rosen & Judith R. Rosenthal, President

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Dear Beth El Temple Family,
 
We are all watching, with care and real concern, the spread and danger posed by the Coronavirus. While there is no reason to panic, we want to use this opportunity to remind the community of precautions we should all be taking.
 
For the time being, consistent with recommendations from the CDC and health officials, we ask people NOT to have physical contact with anyone while at Beth El. We suggest starting with a simple "Hi!" or "Shabbat Shalom." If you want, while it may feel uncomfortable or even silly at first, add a nod or maybe bow slightly, maybe bump elbows, whatever feels most comfortable. It is for your safety and ours.

We also ask that you refrain from kissing mezuzot and/or the Torah as it passes by; to show honor to the Torah, we suggest bowing as the Torah passes or kissing your own hand.
 
Additionally, here are some other recommended practices, whether at Beth El or not:

  • Clean your hands regularly when you are in public. You may do so with soap and water but you must wash for at least 20 seconds for it to be most effective.
  • Hand sanitizer is equally effective in killing viruses like Corona (but does not physically clean dirty hands); to use properly, cover the entire hand and fingers and let dry.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze, preferably with a tissue that is immediately disposed of or, minimally, into your sleeve - then reclean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home's entrances and in your care for use when you can't immediately wash your hands.

These are excellent practices, regardless of coronavirus, which help contain the spread of the flu among other illnesses. Millions of Americans this season have gotten the flu, with nearly 20,000 deaths, including over 100 children. If you have not already done so, get the annual flu vaccine, unless medically contraindicated.
 

We ask that if you have symptoms of illness, including fever, coughing, stomach bug or any other sickness, please DO NOT come to Beth El, during the week, for Purim, or on Shabbat. Protecting and preserving health supersedes these other considerations.

We continue to clean and sanitize regularly. We will continue to keep abreast of the situation and update everyone with any adjustments, changes or new instructions.

May we be blessed with good health, wellness and prosperity.
 
Sincerely,
 
Rabbi Jim Rosen &
Judy Rosenthal, Congregational President

Thu, August 6 2020 16 Av 5780