COVID-19 Precautions: Temple Israel Action Plan

15 March 2020

To:                       All Members of Temple Israel

Subject:             Temple Israel Actions in Support/Response to COVID-19 State of Emergency

Dear friends,

Yesterday, Broome County officials declared a State of Emergency, joining State and Federal officials who had previously done so. While we are not aware of any reported confirmed cases in our county or our synagogue at this time, precautions have been proposed to limit the spread of this novel coronavirus, including school closures, cancellation of mass gatherings, and social distancing.

Today, your Executive Committee convened on an emergency basis and decided to take specific actions to severely limit Temple Israel activities which involve gathering face-to-face. Following the Jewish teaching that saving a life is our paramount objective, we must do everything we can to avoid spreading the virus, particularly to the more vulnerable in our congregation, for whom it could be deadly.

To the maximum extent possible, we will strive to continue to fulfill the spiritual needs of our community by offering as much study and counseling and personal contact as we can on-line and over the phone for this interim period, until such time as we can safely come together again as a group. The Executive Committee will meet weekly to update this plan, as we learn more about our capabilities and limitations. Effective immediately and until further notice:

Synagogue Services are suspended:  On-line study/prayer to be offered

We will not conduct our weekday minyans, Kabbalat Shabbat, Shabbat morning, or Festival (Pesach) services in our building. We are studying ways to offer different experiences through on-line and telephone conferencing. Rabbi Brown will communicate more information as these offerings are developed.

Hebrew School Classes will not meet in-person:  On-line study to be offered

While Vestal Schools are closed, our Hebrew School classes will not meet in the building. We are working with Temple Concord to coordinate an on-line educational platform, similar to that which public schools are offering. Blake McCabe will communicate with students and parents as plans for on-line study are readied.

The Office will operate:  But will not be “open”

Rabbi Brown and Tammy will be quite busy organizing and facilitating on-line programs and serving as a communications hub, however, we ask congregants NOT to come to the building. Use email, phone, or postal mail if possible; or if you must drop something off or pick something up, please communicate using the intercom and minimize the personal exchange.

The Board of Trustees will not meet face-to-face:  On-line & phone alternative will be arranged

Our 17 March meeting will take place “virtually”, and each Trustee will be able to participate from home via a computer or telephone, without the risk of a face-to-face meeting. We will probably do this using software such as Zoom or Skype, with dial-in telephone access included. I will communicate the arrangement as soon as it is in-place.

Committees will not meet face-to-face:  On-line & phone alternatives will be arranged

Again, we will work to conduct these meetings via computer and telephone. Our objective is to have such a facility in place in time for the Ritual Committee Meeting on 16 March. Steve Gilbert will communicate with the committee directly as this alternative is developed.

Caring Community activity will expand:  For now, primarily by phone

Those in our community who need our shared concern and support may need it more than ever in this difficult time. We ask that all of you share in this mitzvah of keeping in touch with one another, and please make the office aware of any in our community who need our support.

We ask for your understanding and continued support as we navigate these uncharted waters. Temple Israel will strive to fulfill your needs, and still needs you! We will provide more information as it becomes available.

On behalf of Rabbi Brown and the Officers and Board of Trustees, I wish you and your loved ones continued good health. Stay safe!


Arthur B. Siegel

President – Temple Israel