As we are reminded in a recent publication by the Union of Reform Judaism, regarding the idea of Pikuach Nefesh, “Saving human life is Judaism's highest mitzvah, superseding even the commandments concerning the observance of Shabbat. According to tradition, it was permissible to interrupt the ancient Temple, when necessary to save a life.” Our religious and personal lives have been interrupted in ways we never could have predicted. We very much hope that you and your family are safe, and healthy. The Clergy, Staff and Board hope that Beth Chaim has provided you with comfort and support through our weeks of wandering through a virtual desert.
The simple question on everyone’s mind is the same: when will the building reopen? The simple answer: we do not know. We have formed a Task Force of experienced Temple leaders, medical professionals, business leaders, that will
work in partnership with the Clergy and staff and advise the Board about the best practices it will take to reopen Beth Chaim in a way that will be safe for everyone. Already, an engaged group of parents are working with the Education staff to talk about how the pre-school and religious school will operate. We will be guided by the State and Federal Government, and the Centers for Disease Control. We will also guided by Union of Reform Judaism, and other Jewish organizations who are already hard at work, and providing us with materials to think about how to reopen the
building while taking into consideration Jewish values.
These are not easy times, and we have a lot of hard questions to answer in the coming weeks. Beth Chaim may not look the same when it reopens, but our goal is to make it feel the same in your heart. As Chairperson of the Reopening
Task Force, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions. My ‘virtual door’ is always open, and I look forward to having more information for you soon.
Todd Wachtel, Chair Re-Opening Task Force
Re-Opening Task Force
Congregation Beth Chaim’s COVID-19 FAQ’s
To provide you with as much information as we have and to be clear about the Congregation’s policies and protocols, we are sharing the following responses to your most recent inquiries raised over the past week. We want all of you to feel comfortable asking the Clergy, Senior Staff or Re-open Beth Chaim Task Force, any questions you have in these unprecedented times. We are here to support you and maintain your trust.
Who is making the decision on when we should be opening?
We have a Task Force that was created by our President and is comprised of lay leaders and Senior Staff. This task force is examining all the recommendations from the CDC, the State of New Jersey, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Department of Education, as well as input from our staff and lay leaders. This group will then make recommendations to the Board regarding how to proceed.
Will the building open and all programming begin at once?
Our best answer currently is no- this will be a phased in process. Opening likely will take place in stages. As the state parameters change, we will examine what we feel is in our entire community’s best interest, and what will keep our staff, congregants, and students safe. As the guidance from both the State and the CDC evolve, we will continue to determine who will be able to enter during our first phase. Currently we are in pre-stages of opening.
How will we ensure that everyone is safe?
We will be working within the CDC guidelines as well as the Department of Education and other organizations to make our building as safe as we possibly can. You will see physical changes. Staff who are returning to work will be trained regarding COVID-19 prevention and safety protocols Health and hygiene reminders will be prominently placed including reminders about hand washing, social distancing, and other guidelines.
Will we be holding High Holiday Services in our building?
This is a big question - one that has to be explored and understood a bit more before we can give you a definitive answer. Please know that the task force is working with the sole purpose of reopening in the safest possible way, and we will continue to keep you, our Congregants, informed as we make our way through this process. Beth Chaim is our house of life and we will do our best to bring the life back in to our building as safely and securely as we can when the time is right.
Is there a specific timeline for when we will no longer be remote?
These are unprecedented times, and there is a lot of unpredictability. When a decision to modify our current protocols is made, different factors will be considered- including the health and wellbeing of our clergy, staff, congregants and students, which remains our top priority, as well as state and local mandates and guidance from all governing agencies.
Is the building safe?
Out of an abundance of caution and as a matter of prudent health and safety practices our building has been the subject of deep cleanings and our maintenance staff has been given training in new cleaning protocols.
Please be on the lookout for an email survey from the Task Force. We value each of you and want to hear your thoughts as you are all important to our Beth Chaim Community.
Do you have questions that are not answered here? Email the Reopening Task Force at email@example.com.
Who can we talk to about testing for COVID-19 or other general questions about our physical health and wellbeing?
You are encouraged to speak to your doctor or a local healthcare provider.
Mental Health & Employee Resources
What resources are available for our mental health as anxiety increases during these challenging times?
Our NEFESH Committee has worked hard to gather information on local resources and can be very helpful. You can find their information at bethchaim.org/nefesh.
There is a Public Crisis Line, a toll-free emotional support help line at (866) 342-6892. This is free of charge and available to anyone, so you can share it with family and friends. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit liveandworkwell.com for more information.
The CDC also provides a helpful resource for helpful information on Managing Anxiety & Stress.
You can contact JFCS at 609-987-8100.
What are some things that I can do to remain healthy and energized during this stressful time?
We need to exercise, rest, eat well, and stay hydrated. The best advice here is to schedule time for these things. We want what is best for you, your families, and your pets. Please take care of yourselves and each other.
We are seeing conflicting information in the news and social media. Where can we find reliable information?
Please consider the following: