Many of our regular Shabbat service attendees have been asking us about whether CSZ will respond to the recent changes in CDC and State of Michigan guidance. We assembled our group of congregational medical advisors to discuss this important issue and, in collaboration with them, we structured the following revised guidelines:
1. The vaccine is highly effective.
2. Based on the poll CSZ conducted at our annual meeting in May, 99% of meeting participants reported that they have been fully vaccinated. We believe that this can be extrapolated to our entire congregation where, even with a standard deviation of +/- 5%, we would still be in the 90%+ range. This is substantially higher than the vaccination rate among the general population.
3. Because we have such a high vaccination rate which provides herd immunity, our medical consultants advise that fully vaccinated people in our congregation no longer need to wear a mask or practice physical distancing while at indoor services and programs. Therefore, we are lifting these restrictions for vaccinated people, effective on Friday, June 11, 2021.
4. Our medical advisors want to remind those who have reason to believe that the vaccination was less effective for them (e.g., people with immunocompromised conditions) that they should be aware of the potential risk and should continue to engage in more cautious practices.
5. We understand that we are still in a transition period and not everyone has the same comfort level around removing their mask. Therefore, we will conduct a pilot, designating a “masks and distancing” section of the sanctuary for people who prefer to sit farther away from each other and from people who do not wear masks. Our intention is to provide everyone with an option with which they can be comfortable. We will evaluate this pilot in a few weeks and determine whether we need to make adjustments at that time.
6. Anyone who wishes to continue to wear a mask is welcome to do so. We continue to ask unvaccinated people, both adults and children (age 2 and up), to wear a mask indoors. We want to reiterate, however, that a high level of herd immunity generally prevents the transmission of COVID-19, even with a small number of unvaccinated people within the herd, so the risk to others is still quite small.
7. We will also stop taking temperatures at the door. The literature now suggests that this practice is only marginally effective and is not necessary in a population with a high rate of herd immunity. We continue to ask that any member who does not feel well does not come to services in the building and continues to take advantage of our online participation option.
8. Our medical advisors have indicated that we can safely resume service of food, particularly if we do so outdoors.
9. Because of our high level of herd immunity, it is no longer necessary to utilize drum shields and plexiglass dividers between clergy stations on the bimah or between choir members. We will be removing these.
Many thanks to the physicians on our medical advisory group for their time and guidance:
Dr. Carl Lauter
Dr. Gerald Cohen
Dr. Adam Rosh
Dr. David Salama
Dr. Sam Yashinsky
If you have any concerns regarding these changes, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Robert Rich HERE, or at 248.357.5544. It’s important that we help everyone to feel as comfortable as possible as we continue to return to more normal operations.
Susan Kozik Klein
Rabbi Aaron Starr
Rabbi Yoni Dahlen
Hazzan David Propis
Dr. Robert H. Rich
At Congregation Shaarey Zedek, it is our priority to keep everyone healthy. As a Jewish organization, we are guided by the values of Pikuach Nefesh – “Safeguarding Life,” Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Bazeh – “We Are Responsible for One Another,” and Chesed – “Profound Love and Kindness.” We also abide by governmental guidelines whenever possible as we strive to balance public health concerns with the needs of our sacred community.
While we are implementing various protocols to ensure your safety, it’s up to you and everyone in our CSZ family to execute these protocols every time you participate.
We understand that some members may not wish to re-enter the building yet. We support and honor that decision, and would especially encourage those with higher risk of COVID-19 infection to avoid attending anything at CSZ (or other locations where gatherings take place). These groups include unvaccinated:
– Older adults
– People with pre-existing respiratory issues
– People sharing a household with those described above.
Congregation Shaarey Zedek strongly recommends that everyone eligible receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. As more members become vaccinated, this increases the safety of us all.
We understand that every person’s situation is different and encourage those with specific risks or concerns to speak confidentially with our Return to CSZ Team.
Our CSZ leaders have helped to craft guidelines for our return to participating in and around our building, which we are calling the TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR COVID-19 SAFETY:
I. Don’t Attend if You Are Feeling Sick. If you are ill in any way, we urge you to stay home and participate in our activities through virtual means. This especially includes anyone with fever, aches, cough, or other upper respiratory symptoms.
II. ALWAYS Wear a Mask.
Until further notice, all those within the CSZ building are required to bring masks and wear them for the duration of their stay on our property. Those unwilling to wear masks will not be granted entry, or will be required to leave. The only exceptions to this policy are:
– For those clergy of people with service honors leading prayer, who are not required to wear masks. They are asked to put on masks immediately upon the conclusion of their prayer-leading.
– Children 2 years old and younger.
– Others medically unable to wear a mask.
– Members are asked to provide their own face coverings in accordance with CDC guidelines.
III. Get Your Temperature Checked at the Front Door.
Thermal screening will be conducted in the main foyer, using a handheld device, at activities and services taking place in the building. People yet to be screened should line up outside the building on markers (placed on the ground) six feet apart. Those who show a fever higher than 100.4°, and those refusing to be screened, will not be granted entry.
IV. Always Keep the Proper Social Distance – No Hugging, Shaking Hands, Kissing, etc.
All those at CSZ should follow social distancing best practices, including but not limited to the sanctuary, lobby, restrooms, and outdoor areas. Specifically, everyone is asked to:
Stay 10 feet away from others whether praying, walking, or otherwise engaged when indoors and 6 feet away from others when outdoors.
– Avoid conversations and tasks that require close face-to-face contact with others.
– Avoid contact with others (e.g., handshakes, hugs).
– Avoid touching surfaces that may have been touched by others when possible.
– Avoid gathering when entering and exiting the facility. Everyone should only enter and exit designated areas.
– Follow any posted signage regarding social distancing practices.
– Avoid touching your face.
– Avoid nonessential gatherings.
V. Follow the Proper Path Through the Building: Enter Through the Correct Doors Outside and in the Sanctuary, Follow the Flow of Traffic, and Follow the Usher to Your Assigned Seat
Members should enter the building through the right-most building door. Pathways have been designated for safe passage through the Eisenberg-Forbes Reception Lobby to the right-most entry door to the sanctuary, which is marked “enter only” and remains open. Members should proceed to an allowable seat marked with a green sticker through the right-most aisle. The coat room and drinking fountains are closed until further notice.
VI. Pick Up a Siddur and Chumash From the Table on the Way Inside, and Deposit it at the Other Table Near the Exit.
A rolling rack is placed near the right-most sanctuary door for people to pick up a siddur and chumash, and another near the left-most sanctuary door for them to drop off their siddur and chumash after use. Between weekly services, these are rotated.
VII. Only the Clergy are Allowed on the Bimah – Even for Those Who Have Aliyot.
Standing microphones are placed at the front of the left and right aisles. Aliyot are conducted from those microphones, so as to maintain distance from the clergy on the bimah. No one except clergy is allowed on the Bimah, and the clergy will not leave the Bimah (including backstage areas) during the service. Hakafot around the congregation is suspended until further notice.
VIII. When Going to the Bathroom, Follow the Proper Flow of Traffic! Wash Your Hands BEFORE and AFTER Using the Toilet.
Those entering or leaving the restrooms should not touch the doors with their hands – rather they should use their elbow on the automatic door opener panel. Alternating stalls, urinals, and sinks are marked as off-limits. Members are asked to wash their hands before using the restrooms and after using the restrooms. Hand sanitizer is also available immediately outside of the restrooms. Disinfecting wipes are also available to wipe down toilet seats and faucets, if desired.
We have turned off the forced-air hand dryers, and provide paper towels instead. The family restrooms can also be used, though these require touching the door to open them. No restrooms should have more people within them at any time than is consistent with the physical distancing of ten feet between those not residing in a single household.
IX. When Exiting, Do So in Phases as Directed From the Bimah.
Members should exit via the center or left-most aisle (looking toward the front) and back to the right-side doors as you face the exit. In essence, “keep right” as you go, and signs are posted to that effect. No schmoozing on your way out, please! Exit quickly through the lobby, all the way outdoors, before pausing for conversation.
X. Be Prepared for Change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertain times and resulted in unprecedented changes. We ask that everyone remain patient and understanding of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic may require our plans to evolve.
Together, we will get through this situation with a stronger, more connected, and more healthy CSZ family. Let us continue to pray for peace, for strength, and most importantly, for life.