COVID-19: Congregation Shaarey Zedek Responds

Continuing through April 30, 2020, all community gatherings at Congregation Shaarey Zedek are cancelled, including prayer services, adult education and programming, and all youth education and programming including Religious School, due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus (novel coronavirus).

Based on the medical information and guidance that we are receiving, we join with the entire Jewish community of Metro Detroit in taking these important steps to protect our people. Pikuach Nefesh – saving a life – is among Judaism’s highest values, and the action plan that we are following is in keeping with our understanding of Jewish Law.

Congregation Shaarey Zedek is a place of worship, but it is also home, family and community. Please keep in mind that we are here for you, and we are available through multiple points of contact. Please reach out to us if you need anything!

TODAY’S UPDATE: Friday, April 3, 2020
Our building is closed for all services and events.
Morning Minyan at 7:30 a.m., and Evening Minyan at 5:30 p.m. will NOT meet in person. We will convene a virtual Minyan, which will allow for participation at a distance, including kaddish, through Zoom at this link:

Friday’s Online Opportunities:

Rebecca’s Kitchen – Charoset: 11:00 a.m.
Rebecca Starr shows us how to make charoset two ways:

Ashkenaz Ingredients: Walnuts, apples, honey, cinnamon, sweet red wine or juice, raisins are optional
Sephardi Ingredients: Dates, figs, sweet wine or juice, ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper, matzah meal and chocolate are optional
Also needed: a food processor

Join her online at

Kabbalat Shabbat and Candle Lighting: 7:15 p.m.
Hazzan David Propis helps us welcome Shabbat with a Kabbalat Shabbat, followed by a candle lighting at 7:43 p.m. Listen in on Facebook Live HERE!


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Siyyum B’Chorim with Rabbi Yonatan Dahlen: 8:00 a.m.
Traditionally, Jews who are first-born-children are required to fast the day leading up to the first seder. However, if a first-born completes a volume of learning or participates in the completion of the volume of learning, s/he is exempt. Please join Rabbi Dahlen as he leads us in completing a volume of learning. Please note: a festive meal is required following the learning, so please prepare to have a good breakfast!

The Children of Israel: A Youth and Family Seder led by Rabbi Aaron Starr: 5:00-5:45 p.m.
Children and their families are invited to join Rabbi Aaron Starr and his family “virtually” for a 30-45 minute seder of stories, songs and celebration. Participants are asked in advance to make a seder plate for each child, and to be ready for four cups (or four sips) of grape juice. Register in advance for this event: After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the virtual Seder.

CSZ Virtual STAYder with Hazzan David Propis: 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Adults, teens, and children are invited to join Hazzan David Propis and experience Seder in a fun and musical way as we retell and ‘re-sing’ the Passover story. Register in advance for this event: After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the virtual Seder.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Plague of the Unknown: Navigating Pesach in Isolation with Rabbi Yonatan Dahlen: 6:30-8:00 p.m.
The Passover Seder is more than a symbolic retelling of the Exodus; it is an invitation to challenge our minds, our hearts, and our souls and to ask some of life’s hardest questions. In this Virtual Seder led by Rabbi Yonatan Dahlen for adults and teens, we will take different sections of the hagaddah and respond to them with our own texts and commentary, building together a philosophical, theological, and ethical response to a world that right now feels as uncertain as crossing a parted sea. Register in advance for this event: After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the virtual Seder.

Online prayerbooks are available for you to follow along with our minyan, thanks to the Rabbinical Assembly! We utilize Siddur Sim Shalom. It is recommended that you download weekday morning, weekday afternoon, weekday evening and Shabbat. Click HERE.

Alternately, translinearly transliterated Siddurim created by Hazzan Sarah Alexander are available to download, print, copy:
Sim Shalom pagination – mincha l’chol – 8.5×11
Sim Shalom pagination – maariv l’chol – 8.5×11
Sim Shalom pagination – shacharit l’chol – 8.5×11

How will I know what’s going on?
We recognize that it’s difficult to reach every member, so we’ll use a variety of communication tools to spread as wide a net as possible. This page is a great resource for daily updates, please check back often. We also will send out member e-mails, but only when needed. If you are not receiving CSZ e-mails, click HERE to sign up. We will post regular updates from the clergy on our social media channels, so follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, if you don’t already do so. You may also receive automated calls to update you on items of note.

How can I get in touch with staff or clergy?
– In case of need, our clergy remain as accessible as ever. Call the Synagogue office, or contact Elise Gechter at to get your message through.

– Public access to the building won’t be available, or will be severely limited. Please call before you come over if you have deliveries to make, or need something urgent.

– CSZ staff members are working remotely, and are keeping regular business hours, but may not be able to respond to you immediately. Call the Synagogue office at 248.357.5544, and the receptionist will assist. If you call after normal business hours, leave a message on our general voice mail line for a call-back, or use the voice mail directory to direct dial the person you need. Not sure who they are? Try looking them up on our staff page for extensions and e-mail addresses, HERE.

Is anything at all being held at CSZ?
Not at this time. Please watch services and help make a digital Minyan through our Zoom streams. Service times are on our home page, and posted daily on social media. Some of our learning and programming may also be conducted electronically. If so, we will post the times and links, both here on this page, and on social media, so you can join in online. Follow us at the links above.
Parents, please watch for our Religious School’s links to distance learning and enrichment.

What about kaddish?
Traditionally, one may only recite the Mourners’ Kaddish in the presence of a minyan: ten Jewish adults (i.e., Jews age 13 and older). While there are many reasons for this, the one that speaks the loudest is that in our times of great sadness we must consciously and intentionally leave our homes to be with others. In the absence of a minyan, though, no kaddish is recited. This fact also serves to inspire those not in mourning to take the time and effort to come to the Synagogue so that others may recite the kaddish.

With our campus now closed in response to COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) – with every non-Orthodox synagogue and temple in the area now closed, and with many Orthodox synagogues now closed as well – the recitation of Mourners’ Kaddish is, traditionally speaking, prohibited. Rabbi Starr’s first response, then, was to uphold the tradition: in place of kaddish, we recited the memorial prayer El Malei Rachamim (“God full of mercy”) normally recited at other times in the service, as well as at the conclusion of funerals and individually by visitors to a graveside.

However, with some trepidation and reluctance, Rabbi Starr is now granting a temporary and limited heter (permission) for the recitation of Mourners’ Kaddish through the virtual minyan (i.e., on-line gathering of ten people). This heter is limited in scope: As of the beginning of Shabbat on May 2 (this date will be reviewed regularly), we will once again require an in-person minyan in order to recite the Mourners’ Kaddish. Please note as well: this heter is only applicable to members of Congregation Shaarey Zedek of Southfield, Michigan and their families. Additionally, this permission will only be in effect if and when we achieve the required quorum of ten adult Jews who are logged in to join us in prayer: are

Rabbi Starr says: A leading posek (Jewish legal decider) of the Conservative movement, Rabbi Avram Reisner, tells the story of a rabbi who, during a famine, permitted his congregation on Yom Kippur to eat for the sake of health. In explaining his decision, the rabbi responded, “It is not that I am derelict in the laws of Yom Kippur. It is that I am fervent with regard to the laws of pikuach nefesh (saving a life).” Like this rabbi, I too am fervent about pikuach nefesh and I am also fervent, to the extent possible, in providing opportunities to be m’nachem aveilim (comforting of mourners).

How about events being held offsite? Will those still take place?
No. Any event sponsored by CSZ or one of our affinity groups has been postponed for the time being, whether it was scheduled to meet in our building or at another outside location. We’ve updated our web calendar and social media events to reflect that.

I have an event at CSZ that was sponsored by an outside group or agency. Will that continue as planned?
No. Our building is completely closed to all services, classes and events. You should check with the host organization to learn more about their plans.

If I can’t come to you, how do I do Jewish?
Participate in interactive Minyan services through Zoom at this link: Interact with our clergy on their Facebook pages, on our Facebook page Torah Maps: Support for Navigating a Meaningful Jewish Life for engagement and discussion, and join in our adult learning through Zoom (Click HERE to learn how). More opportunities for adults and youth are on the way!

Where can I find additional help for my fears and anxiety?
These are difficult and unprecedented times for us all. Rabbi Starr has recorded a video, How to talk to your children during difficult times, and that is on his Facebook page. The clergy are available at 248.357.5544 or through e-mail. Additionally, if you are in need of further counseling, financial assistance and more, our community has an amazing resource in J-HELP. Through J-HELP you can connect to all the community agencies and resources with one phone call – 833-44-jhelp (54357) – or through their website: