Getting back to normal
While I commend synagogues, and especially Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation, to which I belong, for making do with Zoom services during the height of the pandemic, it’s now time to plan to reopen.
In her d’var Torah (“Creating sacred space,” Feb. 19), Rabbi Jennifer Weiner downplays the importance of holding in-person services. I respectfully disagree. I feel that worshipping together in the synagogue has always been, and will continue to be, the heart of our religion. And I find in-person services more meaningful than Zoom and look forward to seeing other members of the congregation.
Getting the vaccine into people’s arms is an important component of being able to reopen in reasonable safety. However, individuals and synagogues should also do their part. People need to get vaccinated as soon as their group is allowed and they can book an appointment. Synagogues also need to plan for in-person services, including working with the local health department to determine safe capacity, modifying seating to allow for social distancing and improving ventilation. Synagogues need to communicate with their members on the steps they are taking to reopen, establish safety protocols and set a timetable with the goal of reopening by early summer and a late-August fallback date in time for the High Holidays.
I realize that nobody has a crystal ball, and it’s not impossible that the virus could be bad when the High Holidays approach, making reopening unsafe. But let’s try, so that if we continue to make progress, we will be ready. Come spring, warmer weather may help subdue the virus, which is already way down from its January peak. Proper precautions like wearing masks and the majority of people getting vaccinated should help. I consider in-person services to be an important part of returning to normal life.
Jeffrey H. Marks