Today is June 4, 2020 -

So, When Can We Re-Open the Synagogue for Services and Programming?

By Jay Gordman, President of the Board of Trustees

As I write this article, the government guidelines are starting to loosen in Nebraska and around the country. At the same time, new COVID cases continue at a rapid pace. While we all understand the need for social distancing, there is also a desire for in-person social interaction.

There is no substitution for physically being together. Technology will continue to evolve and do incredible things to help us come together, but being in-person will always be preferred.

By the time we reach early June, and you read this article, we hope to have a much better understanding of the status of the pandemic, with clear guidelines to keep everyone safe. This guidance will help us decide on our next steps.

Our Guiding Principles
Our staff and members of the board have already started conversations about a framework that we will use to make decisions about re-opening. At the core of our approach is the
Jewish principle, Pikuah Nefesh – “Safeguarding Life.” This principle will be at the heart of our decision making.

It is paramount that we don’t risk the lives of our clergy, staff, and congregation. At the same time, we must act in ways so our congregants don’t feel disadvantaged based on the needs of their health.

Our Approach
As we look towards opportunities to physically come together, we will:
• Act with caution based on our core value above. Our concern for health and safety may make us some of the last to return to in- person activity.
• Continue to work in partnership with medical professionals, staff and the board to evaluate the appropriate steps and timelines.
• Continue to use technology for our services, education and community engagement. While these tools are our second choice
to being physically together, they have provided an incredible platform that has allowed people to connect like never before.
• Understand that the path back to an operation like we had before will take time.

These decisions will be difficult; we ask for your understanding as we navigate uncharted waters. We will never create a situation where we put anyone at risk. We also won’t be in a situation where people feel the need to put themselves or others at risk.

We don’t yet know when we can physically open, but it will take time to get to a new “normal.” Rest assured that we will make choices that will preserve the well-being of our congregation, while understanding the desire to physically come together to meet our spiritual and communal needs.

Jay Gordman