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Coming back to our building

07/02/2020 02:00:50 PM


Steve Fintel

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in."
     -- Frederick the Great

Shalom chaverim. On July 1, I became president of Temple Beth Shalom. I would first like to express my deepest gratitude for the trust you've placed in me. I hope my actions as president will merit your faith.

In the interest of transparency of leadership, I would like to start a new tradition of writing to the congregation regularly to keep our members informed on the issues Temple Beth Shalom leadership are dealing with. I'll kick it off with re-opening plans.

Answering this question is a real multi-dimensional problem. The first dimension (and the one that overrides all others) is the safety of our congregants, staff and clergy. We must be able to confidently enumerate the risk each person faces by walking through our doors. Let's face it: until the CDC declares the US has achieved herd immunity and we have at least a treatment (preferably a cure) for Covid-19, everyone faces a risk by entering an enclosed gathering with more than 10 people. Even after we achieve herd immunity, some at-risk congregants and staff won't feel completely safe. So, we have to answer the question 'how safe do we need to be'?

At this point, it appears that once we achieve some lowered level of risk, we will still need to enforce some precautions as well. Mask requirements? Temperature checks? Limit attendance at gatherings? How do we engage in those (or similar) precautions and still call ourselves 'warm and welcoming'? Perhaps this will be the new reality that Covid-19 has enforced on us. I feel we need to grapple with the answers to those questions and fully internalize the answers before we walk down that path.

OK, I just spent a lot of words telling you we don't have an answer yet. Even if we did have a viable answer to all the issues raised above, the landscape is shifting underneath our feet. I feel like I'm aiming at a 6 inch bullseye standing in a boat a football field away in rough water. While we're pretty proud of the virtual services we have been able to offer while our building is closed, we haven't lost sight of the fact that there's no substitute for getting together under the same roof at the same time.

To help us answer these questions, we've put together a team of congregants representing a wide range of demographics (young parents to seniors) and disciplines (legal, building, clergy and staff).  We had our first meeting last week and focused on laying out the questions that we needed to address to move forward. I feel like we made some great progress and plan to continue meeting so our plans can take shape.

If you have any thoughts on this, please feel free to drop me a line. You can catch me at or call me at 281-352-9404. I'm happy to hear your thoughts.

Steve Fintel

Sun, January 24 2021 11 Sh'vat 5781