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We’re taking extra precautions during the Omicron surge. See our Covid-19 policy here.
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COVID-19 Policy

One of the highest Jewish values is the preservation of life. Throughout the Covid pandemic, we have prioritized pikuach nefesh (preservation of human life) in deciding when and how we gather. Given the very contagious Omicron variant, we’re saddened to share that we are adjusting our services and programming to help ensure the safety and health of our community. We hope these changes will be temporary (through January) and that we will be able to move toward in-person gatherings again soon. Please read these changes carefully; see below for more information about the Omicron variant and trends.
 
Changes effective immediately:

  • As of January 6th, we will return to Zoom-only for both Friday evening and Shabbat morning services, with remote participation from congregants’ homes.
  • Indoor, in-person events that were planned for January will be rescheduled, cancelled, or moved to Zoom. Please see the website for the most recent information.
  • Rimon Religious School will meet in person on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, but will not meet on Saturday mornings. No snacks will be served during Rimon and all Rimon students who are eligible for vaccines (over age 5) will need to be fully vaccinated (second shot or with booster if eligible) by January 15th.
  • When we return to in-person Shabbat services, we will require proof of vaccination. Proof of being fully vaccinated will include having received the third dose (commonly referred to as a “booster”). Those who have already submitted their cards to the shul with two vaccinations listed will need to update their records.

 
We hope these changes will be necessary for only a few weeks. We will let you know if there are any other changes.
 
Rabbi Aviva Fellman
Paula Sommer, President
Drs. Jeremy Golding and Mattie Castiel, BI Medical Advisers
Dale Rosenberg, Director of Learning and Engagement

More on Omicron from our Medical Adviser, Dr. Jeremy Golding
 
By now, all are aware of the new Omicron variant of Coronavirus sweeping the globe. A few basic medical facts:

  • This variant is highly mutated compared with older variants.
  • The mutations seem to convey extra transmissibility (contagiousness) to the virus. It is MUCH better able to spread between people.
  • The mutations allow the virus to evade the body's immune response at least partially, even among fully vaccinated and boosted individuals.
  • 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna, plus a booster dose still convey very strong protection against moderate and severe disease, meaning the vaccine will most likely still protect you from needing hospital-level care. Unfortunately, breakthrough infections with no or few symptoms are relatively common, even in immunized and boosted people.
  • Preliminary evidence suggests that the mutations in this virus MAY have weakened its ability to cause serious illness requiring hospitalization. However, unimmunized people, immunocompromised people, people older than 75 (even boosted), and those with serious underlying medical conditions are at significant risk for moderate or severe disease.
  • The FDA has approved two new oral medications for treating Covid-19 infection, but these pills will not be available in good supply for some weeks and until then we must take extra precautions.
  • Worcester is experiencing a tremendous surge of cases. The hospitals in Worcester and Boston are at or near capacity, due to non-Covid and Covid cases.

For these reasons, and in keeping with our congregation’s commitment to pikuach nefesh, Dr. Castiel and I have recommended that we return to Zoom services.  
 
Going forward, on Shabbat mornings, one or two service leaders will lead from the sanctuary, and the service will return to Zoom-only participatory services. We are also canceling, postponing, or converting to Zoom all in-person events planned for January. Rimon Religious School will continue to meet in person on Monday and Wednesday afternoons (but not on Shabbat mornings), for now.  
 
Although there are no guarantees, we anticipate that these changes will only need to be in effect for the next few weeks. The Omicron peak is expected to be intense, and will likely occur around mid-January, and then subside.
 
We are hopeful that we will be able to gather together in person again in February, as case positivity decreases, and as the new Pfizer oral medication becomes available. When we re-open, we will require ALL adult attendees at services to document that they have received 2 doses of Pfizer/Moderna AND a booster, or a single J&J vaccine and a booster. All children will need to have received both doses of the vaccine.
 
Questions regarding the above may be sent to the synagogue, and will be routed to our medical consultants.
 
Be safe, stay healthy, wear your masks, and get your boosters NOW!
 

For More Information and Updates . . .

Information about services and programs is shared via emails, social media, and the BI website, as well as our monthly newsletter, BI@Home. Details for Zoom meetings are available in member emails or via the member login on the BI website. For more information, please call the BI Office, (508) 756-6204, between 10:00 to 3:00, Monday through Friday.

If you need to deliver something in hard copy to the synagogue (checks, documents, etc), please contact the BI Office for instructions.

Feel free to reach out to the Rabbi or the office if you would like a call, text, video chat, or email. In addition, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please inform Rabbi Fellman, rabbi@bethisraelworc.org, so that we can support you. If you are not feeling well, let us know. If you are feeling isolated, please reach out. We are physically separated but remain a caring, sacred community.

Wed, January 26 2022 24 Shevat 5782