July 16, 2021
We are very excited to return to Beth Emet in person! We have worshipped, learned and come together as a community during the pandemic, and we are now at a point where we can begin to return to the building…a true shehecheyanu moment! Here are all the resources you need – check back regularly for more information and details.
We have worked to ensure that members are confident in our health and safety protocols when they return in person. We have created a brit, or covenant, for our congregants which explains our shared responsibilities for a safe and comfortable return in person. We continue to livestream all worship services.
We are continually evaluating the new guidance from CDC, URJ, American Conference of Cantors, and the changing rules in the State of Illinois. Judaism places primary importance on the value of Pikuach Nefesh – saving life. As such, our protocols are based on the value of protecting the safety of everyone who comes to Beth Emet.
If you have additional questions, please submit them online.
Q: Will I still be able to worship remotely from home?
A: Yes. One positive benefit during the pandemic was the incredible connection we have maintained, and in many ways, grown via remote services. Now that we’re back in the building for worship services, we are offering fusion services to ensure that those who choose to worship from home are still able to participate. You can check out Kabbalat Shabbat services online through LiveControl and on Shabbat mornings you can access via Zoom.
Q: Is registration required to attend Shabbat services?
A: All worship services inside our building are for those who have been vaccinated and agreed to our Brit (Covenant of Responsibility). Registration is encouraged, but not required. All we ask is that you have supplied the date of your 2nd vaccination (or only vaccination in the case of J&J), and that you’ve supplied this information to the office. You can find our registration form online.
Q: When will Kahal Shabbat services return in-person?
A: Kahal is back in the Weiner Room… and also on Zoom! Registration is encouraged, but not required (see above). You can find our registration form online.
Q: What specific health-related protocols will be in place?
A: We continue to require masks at all times while inside Beth Emet. We have improved the airflow and filters to meet or exceed the guidelines for air exchanges. Chairs are set to comply with the recommended distancing and capacity, and there is hand sanitizer stations available throughout the building. Advanced cleaning regularly occurs. If you have not yet been to worship services, you will receive instructions on entry and relevant safety protocol in advance of the registered service. The CDC, state and local guidance continues to evolve, and we will adapt these protocols accordingly.
Q: There was an Evanston news release in July that says capacity limits no longer apply. Why then are we keeping services limited?
A: The Evanston news release says that businesses [which includes Beth Emet] should encourage (or at least permit) mask wearing and social distancing – and have the right to enforce it. In order to have room for some people to sit in a socially distant matter, capacity must be reduced. Also, doctors recommend that capacity should be limited further if there is active community spread in an area. (Having fewer people in a room lowers the risk of infection.) Community spread in our area is currently low, but numbers are rising in much of the country. We’ll make a final capacity decision closer to the Holidays.
As a practical matter, we have enough capacity now for those who choose to attend Shabbat services and choose to sit either together or socially distant.
Q: How will the logistics work … how will I enter, what do I do?
A: We will be providing comprehensive instructions in advance – via email, and posted on the Beth Emet website, as well as detailed information that will walk you through what to expect. There will also be signage in the building and volunteers to guide you. As so many within our congregation have not yet experienced our new and secure west entrance, instructions will also include how to enter the building safely.
Q: What if I’m not comfortable coming into the Sanctuary?
A: That is totally understandable. We will continue to livestream all worship services live streamed and recorded on demand so you can continue to have a meaningful worship experience. The links for services will continue to be posted on our online calendar.
Q: Are we re-opening too quickly… or too slowly?
A: We are focused on striking the right balance, and have listened to feedback from our congregation. We are committed to the health and safety of our community. We have consulted with infectious disease experts and others who are closely monitoring the recommendations from the CDC, State of Illinois, City of Evanston, and the URJ in order to safely provide access to worship in-person at Beth Emet. We are starting slowly during the summer — “walking before we are running” — to ensure the health and safety of our congregation. Of course, if the situation changes, we will adapt our plans.
Q: Will I be able to invite my friends and family members to attend services in the Sanctuary who aren’t members of Beth Emet?
A: Yes! All we ask that they complete the worship registration form in advance.
Q: How are we handling singing during services?
A: Cantor Cotler is singing live on the bima in the Sanctuary, and congregants are permitted to sing, with masks on. We are closely monitoring guidance related to this area.
Q: Is the Beth Emet staff vaccinated?
A: Yes. All Beth Emet clergy, staff and faculty are fully vaccinated and supportive of our plans.
Q: Are vaccinations required to come back to Beth Emet in person?
A: Worship services at this time are for those who are vaccinated. Beit Sefer (religious school) is back in the building, and we are working closely with the COVID task force to ensure that we are providing a safe program for all.
Q: How will I be reassured that others attending in person are fully vaccinated?
A: Congregants who wish to attend in-person worship services (and other opportunities to be in-person) are asked to provide the date of their second vaccination (or only vaccination in the case of J&J) as well as acknowledge a brit, or covenant, or mutual responsibility which describes expectations about safety protocols.