Re-Opening Task Force


I am pleased to advise that the Board of Congregation of Beth Chaim has passed the following resolution:

Consistent with State and Federal guidelines, Congregation Beth Chaim shall conditionally move to “Phase II” of the Reopening Roadmap passed previously by the board on June 23, 2020. Phase II shall consist of Outdoor Shiva Minyanim, Outdoor Social Programming, Outdoor Educational opportunities and small Religious group meetings outdoors, and the reopening of the larger Pre-School, who shall have indoor and outdoor programming. Additionally, the Clergy shall conditionally be permitted to conduct outdoor religious services with an on-line component, and to conduct pastoral care as appropriate inside the building as per “Phase III” of the Reopening Roadmap passed previously on June 23, 2020 by this Board.


The Reopening Task Force of the Board of Beth Chaim shall develop the policies to assist the safe occurrence of these events without the need for additional Board approval.


As always, our Pre-School Summer Camp led the way in teaching our congregation the “best practices” for having programming inside and outside the building this Summer. We look forward to the exciting opportunities for our Pre-School and Religious School to continue to learn and grow this Fall. Our “Shabbat Under the Stars” set the example of how to come together to pray, while remaining socially distant. Our auxiliaries and committees are planning some wonderful events outdoors. As a reminder, all of our programming will have an online component. We continue to pray, and plan, for everyone’s continued health and safety. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at


Todd Wachtel

The Board of the Directors of Congregation Beth Chaim, the “Reopening Beth Chaim” Task Force, as well as Task Forces that have been discussing reopening the Beth Chaim Pre-School and Religious School have all been hard at work, formulating a plan for Beth Chaim in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Our groups made these decisions seriously and were guided by State and Federal law. We were also guided by pikuach nefesh, the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious rule. As such, on June 23, 2020, the Board of Directors, in consultation with Clergy, Education, and Temple Administration, after significant discussion and review of current State and Federal law, voted in favor of the following roadmap to reopening Beth Chaim:


Phase I

  • July 6, 2020 – Senior staff return – Consistent with the policies set forth by the State of New Jersey, the Senior Staff will be return to the building. Since the building will still be closed to Congregants, to maintain the health and safety of our staff and our congregants, please call or email to connect with our staff members.

  • July 13, 2020 – Pre-School reopening – Congregation Beth Chaim is honored to be the only Jewish Pre-School in Mercer County. We have tremendous Pre-School parents, who let us teach their cute children. We have spent a considerable amount of time working on a comprehensive plan that would allow small ‘pod’ groups of ten-students maximum to return to the building so parents can return to work. Our Education team has developed a great program that complies with the State, Centers for Disease Control, and Union of Reform Judaism procedures. We will be inspected by the State of New Jersey weekly, and look forward to exceeding the State’s expectations.

  • Aug 21, 2020 – Outdoor Friday Night Services – “Shabbat Under the Stars” returns in the middle of Summer 2020. Of course, we will continue “online” access, as well. More  details will be provided in the upcoming weeks and hope to share with you a meaningful experience that will keep everyone safe.

  • High Holy Days Online – The High Holy Days are a time of repentance and renewal. While we would love to pray under the same roof together, we simply cannot do that safely and equitably. During this crisis, Shabbat, B’nei Mitzvah, and all aspects of Temple life have been conducted online. Accordingly, High Holy Days for 2020 will be online. We have been blessed with the technology that will keep us together. Our decision is consistent with the recommendations of the Union of Reform Judaism, and other Reform Congregations in our area. Our Clergy is already hard at work to create a familiar program rooted in our tradition. At the end of the Yom Kippur service, it is a tradition to say, “Next Year in Jerusalem” This year, we add to our prayers “Next Year in West Windsor.”


Phase II (The dates of the following phases will be released as we move through the process, consistent with State and Federal guidelines).

  • Outdoor Shiva Minyanim

  • Outdoor Social Programing

  • Outdoor educational opportunities and small Religious school groups meeting outdoors

  • Larger Pre-school reopening


Phase III

  • Hybrid online and small in-person indoor services

  • Hybrid online and small in-person committee meetings

  • Hybrid online and small in-person education

Phase IV

  • Beth Chaim enters a “new normal.” All of our programming will likely have an online component, as we move into a new era of connection.

  • In-person larger indoor services

  • In-person larger meetings

  • In-person larger education

Congregation Beth Chaim is special. The heart of the Congregation is its people, not its physical location. As we have proven during this crisis, there is so much to our village - even if we cannot be together on Village Road East. We look at this roadmap as not just an opportunity to endure this pandemic, but as a unique time to create positive change for Beth Chaim that will serve us well into the future. We hope that we continue on our current positive road to recovery and pray that these plans do not take any steps backward. We have already learned how little is in our control.


Many people have been involved with these decisions. As we discuss this roadmap as a Congregation, I look forward to hearing from you, too.


Your voice is encouraged and valued. Board members will be contacting you in the future, and more details will be provided. Join us for Zoom Town Halls:

July 16, 2020 at 12:30 pm, and 7:30 pm

If you have even the slightest question or concern, please feel free to contact me at

Todd Wachtel

Reopening Task Force Chair

329 Village Road East l Princeton Junction, NJ 08550 l ​Tel: 609-799-9401 l ​Fax: 609-799-9249 EIN 23-7129982

© 2020 by Congregation Beth Chaim

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