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COVID-19 Updates


Emailed Updates

As we send updates on policies and schedule changes due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we will post them here for reference, most recent first.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020
CBE Re-Opening Plan, and Town Hall on July 19

[Edited to keep some links private]

Dear CBE Families:

As we shared in previous letters, the COVID 19 task force has been working to facilitate the resumption of twice weekly minyanim by the end of this month, and the resumption of Shabbat services in August. To that end, the task force has worked closely with the Ritual Committee, staff and lay leadership to developed the plan linked below.

The plan outlines both the principles and practices essential to the safe resumption of in-person activities at CBE and is built on five key pillars:

  1. Hygiene Measures
  2. Physical Distancing
  3. Wearing of Masks
  4. Screening for Symptoms
  5. Changing our Culture

Each of these pillars is described in more detail in the document, as are measures specific to making services and rituals as safe as possible.

Download Re-Opening Plan

We realize that adopting these pillars represents a change, and in some cases a significant departure from our traditional practices. To help familiarize everyone with the plan and to address any questions, the COVID-19 Task Force will host a town hall on Sunday evening, July 19, at 7:00 PM. Members of the task force will provide a brief overview of the plan and host a question and answer session. To help manage our time effectively, questions submitted in advance will be addressed first. To submit a question please go to [link provided in email; if you are a Beth Emeth member and do not have the email, please email office@bethemeth.org]

Login Information for the Town Hall is below: [Login provided in email; if you are a Beth Emeth member and do not have the email, please email office@bethemeth.org]

As always, if you questions or concerns you’d like to raise with the taskforce please contact us at COVID19@bethemeth.org

I look forward to discussing our plan to re-open slowly and safely with you,

Scott Wollek

Chair, COVID-19 Task Force


Tuesday, July 14, 2020
More Info & Revised Survey for Worship Services at CBE

[Edited to keep some links private]

Dear Congregation Beth Emeth community,

This letter is an update to the one you received yesterday. Since we sent that out, we have gotten several questions on what we will be doing to provide as safe an environment as possible as we work to return to the building. To that end we wanted to provide a bit more information.

As you are aware, during these past few months we have been conducting weekday and Shabbat services via Zoom. If you need the link for services you can find them here: www.bethemeth.org/covid-19#services. Due to the continuing COVID-19 risks and restrictions, we will continue to offer virtual services for the foreseeable future. However, we would love to begin to get together and pray in person, as well. When this does happen, you will see changes in the building. Our COVID-19 task force has been working diligently to create new processes and protocols to help keep us safe and follow the social distancing protocols that have been mandated. Changes include items such as a reservation process for service attendance, screening before entering the building, masks required, hand sanitizing stations throughout the building, seats in the sanctuary and flex space spaced six feet apart, prayer books & tallitot will be quarantined for 72 hours before being put back, new protocols for our service leaders and Torah readers to keep everyone safe. A more comprehensive description of the synagogue’s reopening plan will be coming out within the week.

We plan to have both online and in-person options for services. As of this time, we are also planning to offer a hybrid online and in-person service experience for the High Holidays.

We are trying to get a feel for how many of you are willing to and want to come into the building for our regular weekly services starting later in July. Please complete the survey at the link below to indicate whether you would plan to attend each of the weekly services in person in the building. Also, please indicate whether you would be willing to fill one of our volunteer roles for which training will be provided. Please note that we have added an open comment field to the survey. Please use this version to provide any additional comments you may have if you already completed the original survey.

Thanks and we appreciate your input.

Denise Moldover, VP for Ritual

ritualvp@bethemeth.org

 

Please Click Here to Take the Revised Survey

[Note: the survey link is not included here on the Web. It is included in the email sent July 14 at about 1:30 PM, and the "@CBE" e-news sent July 16 in the evening. If you are a CBE member and do not have either of these messages, contact office@bethemeth.org for the link.]


Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Update from the CBE COVID-19 Task Force

Dear Beth Emeth families, 

In an effort to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our congregation and prepare for the resumption of in-person services, classes and gatherings, Beth Emeth has formed a task force including synagogue staff, lay leadership and experts in medicine, public health and emergency preparedness to help guide our efforts. With the movement of Northern VA into Phase II of Governor Northam’s plans for reopening the commonwealth, the task force is developing our own phased approach to the resumption of traditional activities at Beth Emeth. Currently the task force is focused on five phases of activity: 

  • Phase I: Administrative use of the building, primarily by staff 
  • Phase II: Religious services, including minyanim, Shabbat and holiday services and B’nai Mitzvah 
  • Phase III: Small group activities, including programs, committee meetings, etc. 
  • Phase IV: School activities, including BEECC and Religious School.  
  • Phase V: “Normal” operations 

Over the next several weeks, task force members, in consultation with the board, staff and committees will be working to identify the various tasks and activities included in each of the phases and define the criteria for each to be resumed safely, and the precautions required for them. As the proposed details are worked out, they will be shared with the congregation, and will be continually reassessed in light of the changes regarding the virus in our community. These updates will appear regularly via email as the work continues.

While we continue to monitor the situation in the community, and may make changes, the task force is currently looking at the following timeline: 

  • Phase I: Resume some limited, administrative use of the building in early July, Staff may continue to work from home based on personal preference and operational needs, so please continue to reach out by phone or email if you need an appointment; 
  • Phase II: Small in-person minyanim in mid-July, on-site Shabbat services/B’nai Mitzvah with limited, socially distanced, in-person attendance in early August.

Several congregants have asked about the continuation of hybrid or virtual services. Please rest assured that until such time as we can return to unrestricted activities, virtual participation will remain an option at Beth Emeth.

Please note, the task force is keenly aware of the impact of decisions regarding school activities on families, in particular our BEECC families, and, despite the phases being numbered, they are being worked on concurrently. There is a separate operational plan being written for the BEECC and religious schools detailing the specifics related to their programs, which will be communicated to everyone.

The task force welcomes your input and feedback throughout this process, and we are preparing a series of virtual meetings and other engagements in the near future. In the interim, if you have any questions please contact us at covid19@bethemeth.org.

Wishing you continued health and patience in this trying time, 

Scott Wollek
Chair, CBE COVID-19 Task Force

Fran Besalel
President 2019-20

Leslie Lesch
President 2020-21


Wednesday, April 1, 2:00 PM
Passover During COVID-19

My Dearest Congregants,

Each year at the Passover seder, the youngest person present and able asks:Mah Nishtanah ha-lailah ha-zeh?” “Why is this night different from all other nights?” This year, as we are all under orders to stay at home and not gather in large groups, we all will be asking ourselves, “How is this Passover” different than all other Passovers?

While much will look the same this year, in light of government and health regulations, there will be changes. In order to help you navigate it all, let me go over the many changes step-by-step.

Step One: Kashering/Cleaning your home. To the best of your ability you should clean and prepare your home as you always do prior to Pesach, emphasizing especially the separation/removal of hametz items such as wheat, oats, spelt, barley, and rye. If you have questions about kashering your home for Passover, this link has all the information you could ever want or need.

Step Two: Shopping for Passover. Shopping for Passover is always a challenge when you live in an area without many kosher markets. It is even more complicated now, as we have been given “stay-at-home” orders, making it more difficult to observe our normal shopping behaviors. Here are the recommendations from the Rabbinical Assembly in light of COVID-19 this year.

Step Three: Selling your hametz. Due to the fact that our building is closed, and am unable to sell our hametz to James in the normal manner, I encourage everyone to sell their hametz using this link from the Rabbinical Assembly.

Step Four: Biyur Hametz/Search for the Hametz and Bittul Hametz/Renouncing Hametz. The night before the seder it is a mitzvah to recite the blessing v’tzivanu al biyur hametz, to search one’s home for stray pieces of hametz, to collect them, and then to recite a phrase “renouncing” any additional hametz in the home. The following morning you should either burn or discard the “collected” hametz. Please note that this does NOT mean throwing away all of your hametz. Rather you strategically place a few symbolic pieces of hametz around the home, collect, and then discard those symbolic pieces. My family always makes a game of it.

Step Five: Attending/Conducting/Hosting a Seder. While attending a seder with one’s friends and family is one of the highlights of the Jewish calendar year, this year we are all being urged to stay in our homes for Passover. The preservation of life overrules almost all other Jewish imperatives, so this year we will not be gathering in large sedarim. While our physical health is paramount, our spiritual health is also important. One way to maintain spiritual health is to remain connected to our families and communities. This year in order to do that, just as we are participating in religious services on Zoom, so too will many of us be hosting or participating in a seder that will take place via Zoom. I know that many people are uncomfortable using electronics on Shabbat and holidays. However, so important is the concept of being “together” for the seder that I believe, as do the authorities of the Rabbinical Assembly, that it is preferable to use the technology available to us today, than to sit in our homes, all alone for seder.

If you are planning on participating in or leading a virtual seder, here are some quick tips:

  • Encourage everyone to use the same haggadah. If you are the “host,” let your guests know which haggadah you will be using. If you are hosting your first ever seder and need a haggadah, you can fill out a form here and receive a pdf of The Feast of Freedom.
  • Each location should have their own seder plate. If it seems impossible for each person to get all the necessary items together for a seder plate, please note that: (i) any vegetable (celery, potatoes) can serve as karpas, (ii) any bitter vegetable such as romaine lettuce, endive, or horseradish can serve as maror, and (iii) if you don’t have a shankbone, a beet is an acceptable substitute.
  • Remember to make sure that relatives or friends in a different time zone, know exactly when to log in to your video seder!
  • Please note that there are challenges to using a video-conferencing program such as Zoom for a large group. You might need someone whose sole job is to mute and unmute guests during certain parts of the seder.
  • While we are using Zoom, please note that it is still forbidden to record on Shabbat or a holiday, so please refrain from using the recording option on Zoom.

Finally, if you are still too nervous to host your own seder or don’t know where to log-on for an easy to understand, fun, and relaxed seder, please email me at rabbimina@bethemeth.org and you can join me and my family for our seder. Once you email me, I will send you the Zoom link and the material we will use during the seder.

Step Five: Siyyum Bechorim. If you are a first-born child, I encourage you to participate in this wonderful opportunity for an online siyyum with Rabbi Mordechai Schwartz.

Six: Attending Services and Yizkor. Our Ritual Committee has decided that due to the unusual circumstances this year, we will be following the custom of the land of Israel, and only having Yom Tov (holiday) services via Zoom on the first and seventh days of Passover (and of course on Shabbat and Sunday). Yizkor will take place on the seventh day of Passover rather than as traditionally on the eighth day. Please take note of these changes. Services will be at 9:00 AM on April 9th (first day) and April 15th (seventh day and Yizkor). Here is the Zoom link for our Passover services: bit.ly/CBE-Passover-Service-Online.

Please feel free to call or e-mail me with any other questions. Wishing you and your family a hag kasher v’sameach – a happy, healthy, and kosher Passover!

Rabbi Michelle "Mina" Goldsmith


Friday, March 27, 12:15 PM
A Note from Rabbi Mina

Three weeks ago our community gathered together for our annual Purim Carnival. Two weeks ago we celebrated a Bar Mitzvah together in our sanctuary. A day later everything changed. Thus it was that last Shabbat we did something I never would have imagined - we held our first Shabbat services via Zoom, with nearly thirty families logging in on Friday night and close to sixty on Saturday morning! Times change, sometimes quickly, but our community remains connected and committed to each other's physical, mental, and spiritual well-being throughout it all.

As our second Shabbat with enforced social/physical distancing approaches, I wanted to share some thoughts with my beloved congregation. The first is that I am so proud to be part of a community that has reacted not only quickly to this situation, but also thoughtfully and with everybody's needs in mind. Our religious school and preschool are up and running via Zoom. So too our classes for adults. Not only are we continuing to offer the programs we had before, but we have also found new ways to reach out to each other. Members of our Caring Community are helping take care of members of our community in need. Board members are reaching out to congregants. There have been virtual coffee klatches, a new book discussion group, yoga, and more. Those who are proficient on the computer are helping those who need help adjusting to our new reality. It is quite inspirational.

We are all learning together how to manage this situation. I myself had to be shown how to set up a Zoom meeting just over ten days ago. Now I am teaching others! It has been said that all of life is a learning experience. This is certainly true now.

Among the things that we are learning is how to constantly improve our Zoom offerings. These include our Shabbat and other religious services over Zoom. Thank you to everyone who has joined our Zoom services as we navigate this technology. Over the past week, we have come up with a plan to reduce background noise and confusion, while still allowing for participation by congregants. It should be rather seamless for participants.

It was delightful to see so many of you last week via Zoom. Every part of it was wonderful - from the smiling faces to virtual backgrounds, the families on the couches together, and the mix of pajamas and Shabbat clothes. While I still encourage those that would like to wear Shabbat attire in order to make it seem more "normal," please know that it is optional. I would rather see you in pajamas or t-shirts than not see you at all. Your fellow congregants feel the same as well! And of course, if you are unable to log on with a camera, please still join us. Hearing your voice fills us with joy and helps us feel as though we are together.

Before I go, just a few additional reminders before our next services. Once again we are going to begin our service promptly at 9:00 AM with Shaharit. This means we will get to the Torah service at 9:30 AM. Please take note of the difference in timing.

A helpful congregant pointed out that a few of the prayers in the Kabbalat Shabbat booklet were in the Sephardic tradition. I have corrected the Hebrew and replaced it with our traditional wording. You can find the corrected Kabbalat Shabbat booklet at bethemeth.org/covid-19.

While I know that seventeen people picked up copies of Siddur Lev Shalem this week, I know too that some people still are praying out of Siddur Sim Shalom. Thus I will continue to announce pages in both Lev Shalem and in Siddur Sim Shalom. And if you still want a pdf of Siddur Lev Shalem, please click here in order to receive a pdf of the service.

It was a pleasure having so many of you join in our Pirkei Avot study session after services last week. For those who would like to join us this week, the material and Zoom link are available on our COVID-19 page.

If you have any other questions about what our congregation is doing to help keep us all healthy, safe, and connected during this time, please go to bethemeth.org/covid-19. In addition to Shabbat, I know many of you are worried about Passover. I will be sending out a special communication on navigating Passover during the COVID-19 pandemic, early next week.

Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing many of you at services this Shabbat!

Praying that we all stay safe, healthy, strong, and full of compassion for each other,

Rabbi Michelle “Mina” Goldsmith
RabbiMina@bethemeth.org


Monday, March 23, 3:15 PM
New Zoom Classes/Discussion Groups Starting This Week

Let's Stay Connected! Join us for our newly created Zoom classes/discussion groups!

If you have any questions about Zoom or if you have an idea for creating and leading additional classes/discussion groups, please contact Melissa Heifetz at melissa@bethemeth.org.

Yoga Class

  • Friday, March 27 at 10:30 AM
  • Led by our Religious School Director Ellie Klein
  • Zoom Link

Relax your body and mind and connect with your "neshama" (Hebrew for soul) with a 45 minute virtual yoga class via Zoom. We will begin with breathing and warm up, then do some more challenges poses, and finish with relaxation and guided meditation. All levels and all kinds of bodies are welcome. Yoga will bring some calm to your body and your home. Find a quiet space for you and your computer or phone, roll out a mat or a towel, and wear loose or workout clothing. Have a water bottle nearby for proper hydration, but you might not even break a sweat. We look forward to practicing yoga with you on Friday at 10:30 AM - a great way to welcome in Shabbat!

Zoom in My Room - Daily Group Conversation

  • Daily at 2:00 PM - Starting Tuesday, March 24
  • Led by Robyn Feuerberg, CBE Board Member-at-Large
  • Zoom Link

After participating in the Zoom ritual services that CBE is offering, Robyn realized that as much as she enjoyed the services spiritually, she really just enjoyed seeing faces, many faces, a group of faces. So she decided to launch a Zoom group called “Zoom in my Room - Group Conversation." Starting Tuesday, March 24, bring a cup of coffee, a sparkling beverage or just yourself and let's have a get together, share a funny story, share a good idea or just smile. We all need contact with others.

Book Discussion Group

  • Every Thursday at 4:00 PM - Starting March 26
  • Led by Executive Director Melissa Heifetz
  • Zoom Link

We will discuss the book Einstein and the Rabbi by Naomi Levy, one chapter at a time. We will be discussing Chapter 1 at the first meeting. As described by Rabbi David Wolpe, “Do not miss this unique work combining wisdom, inspiration, a mystery about the world’s greatest scientist, and a modern search for the soul. The combination will enchant your mind and make your spirit sing.”
Kindle and Audible versions are available from Amazon.

Weekly Discussion Group for Parents of Children with Special Needs

  • Every Wednesday at 11:00 AM - Starting March 25
  • Led by Traci Levine
  • Zoom Link

Interruptions to schedule and routine can be especially difficult for those caring for children (no matter the age) with special needs. Please join our weekly discussion group for support and companionship. 

Pozez JCC Widow/Widower Support Group

  • Wednesday, April 1 at 5:15 PM
  • Led by Dr. Rebecca Fleischer
  • Please contact Jennifer DeAngelis at Jennifer.DeAngelis@theJ.org for the registration link.

This monthly program, organized by the Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia and hosted by Congregation Beth Emeth, will be meeting online through Zoom. This free support group is open to anyone who has recently and not-so-recently lost a husband, wife or partner. Join us for an open forum frank discussion with a focus on grief, bereavement and continuing on after great loss.


Monday, March 23, 10:30 AM
Pick up prayer books at CBE this Wednesday from 4:00-6:00 PM

A hearty yasher koach to all who have participated in our zoom services over the past week. I know that for me personally they have been a great way to connect with people as we all hunker down and practice our social distancing!

As we hold each service we have been adjusting as we go to make the experience better each time. For the last week we have been dependent on people having either personal copies of the  siddurim and chumashim at home or downloading using the links found associated with our service links (bethemeth.org/covid-19). Our next step is to make physical copies available to you by borrowing them from CBE.

On Wednesday, March 25 from 4:00-6:00 PM we will hold a drive through pick up service where you can sign out Siddur Lev Shalem, Etz Chaim Chumash, and Siddur Sim Shalom weekday. Our plan is the have you drive up to the front of the building, stay in your car, and someone will bring copies that you can sign out. We request that only one copy of each be signed out per household and that you only take the books that you need. Once the building opens back up and we resume in person services we will ask that you return the copies you borrowed.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out to me at ritualvp@bethemeth.org.

See you around the shul!

Leslie Lesch


Friday, March 20, 2:30 PM
A Note from Rabbi Mina Before Our 1st Zoom Shabbat Services

It is hard to believe that our first Shabbat with required physical/social distancing is almost here.

Before our weekly day of rest and spiritual reconnection begins, we want to share some important things to know for our first Shabbat services via Zoom.

The Rabbinical Assembly sent out guidelines this week to its rabbis explaining how it is that we can use Zoom to conduct full services, including prayers that are b'kedushah, those that require a minyan. Part of the reasoning is that with Zoom we can see and hear one another. As long as we can see and hear each other it is as if we are together. Thus, we ask that if possible when you join us for services via Zoom, you turn on your camera (while it is preferable for people to see each other, if you prefer not to turn the camera on due to privacy concerns, we understand). If you are unable to log on with a camera, please still join us. Hearing your voice will fill us all with joy and help us feel as though we are together.

Please wear appropriate Shabbat clothing, including a kippah during all services and tallit on Saturday & Sunday mornings (if you would wear one at synagogue). It will make it feel more "real."

If you want to feel as though you are in CBE, click here to download a photo of our sanctuary to use as your virtual background during the service.

Unlike our regular Shabbat morning services, we are going to BEGIN the service with Shaharit right at 9:00 AM. In addition, due to the fact that we are not in the sanctuary with an ark, the Torah service will also be rather abbreviated. We anticipate being completely through with the service by 10:30 AM, although it might go just a little bit longer. Please take note of these times. If your custom is to come to services at 10:00 AM, you will miss most of our virtual service!

If you don't have a copy of Lev Shalem, please click here in order to receive a pdf of the service.

It has been brought to our attention that many people have Siddur Sim Shalom at home. I will announce pages in both Lev Shalem and in Siddur Sim Shalom.

Please note that we will be benching Rosh Hodesh, that is, doing the prayer announcing the new month. Please click here to download the file with the words to the special Rosh Hodesh blessing we sing at CBE

Finally, just as we offer a Pirkei Avot study session after services on Shabbat mornings, we will do the same via Zoom. After services we will take a break for brunch, coffee, and stretching. Then please join us for the Pirkei Avot Lev Shalem study session precisely at noon. 

Zoom links for all of our services (and for the Pirkei Avot study session) can be found at bethemeth.org/covid-19.

We look forward to seeing many of you at services this Shabbat!

Rabbi Michelle “Mina” Goldsmith
RabbiMina@bethemeth.org


Tuesday, March 17, 7:00 PM
Subject: How to "attend" CBE worship services online!

(message edited for online use)

While the building is closed, Beth Emeth worship services will be conducted online through Zoom, a free online video conference service. Here are the links you will need to watch each of our weekly services online:

Wednesday Minyan (8:00 PM every Wednesday): 
bit.ly/CBE-Wed-Minyan-Online 
Download: Siddur Sim Shalom: Evening Services for Weekdays

Friday Kabbalat Shabbat Service (6:15 PM every Friday):
bit.ly/CBE-Fri-Service-Online 
Download: CBE Kabbalat Shabbat Booklet

Saturday Shabbat Morning Service (9:00 AM every Saturday):
bit.ly/CBE-Sat-Service-Online
Download: Siddur Lev Shalem: Shabbat Morning

Pirkei Avot Study Session (12:00 PM every Saturday, after services): 
bit.ly/CBE-Pirkei-Avot-Online 

Sunday Minyan (9:00 AM every Sunday):  
bit.ly/CBE-Sun-Minyan-Online 
Download: Siddur Sim Shalom: Shaharit for Weekdays

Special Notes:

  • You do not need a Zoom account to join a service ("meeting") on Zoom.
  • When tuning in to watch the services, we recommend turning off your own video & microphone feeds in Zoom, in order to preserve your privacy.
  • You can participate in a Zoom service ("meeting") on a tablet or smartphone as well as on a PC. In each case, click on the link to the service, and the first time you will be asked to download an app before you can "join the meeting."  To become familiar with the program (and download the app in advance), you can join a "test meeting."

Additional information about CBE worship services is available at www.bethemeth.org/services.  

Questions? Contact office@bethemeth.org.


Tuesday, March 17, 3:30 PM
CBE Caring Community support for COVID-19

Congregation Beth Emeth (CBE) wants to help any congregant who is self-isolating by running errands such as grocery shopping and medication pickups. Please take a look at the sign up genius and let us know if you need assistance or if you are someone who can help out others.


Tuesday, March 17, 2:00 PM
A Message from Rabbi Mina

Ki Tissa 2020 - Washing Hands for Spirit and Body

This past Shabbat we read from the Torah portion (parashat) Ki Tissa. Towards the beginning of Ki Tissa, we read the following (Ex. 30:17-21): Vayedaber Adonai el Mosheh Lemor -

"The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Make a laver of copper and a stand of copper for it, for washing; and place it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar. Put water in it, and let Aaron and his sons wash their hands and feet [in water drawn] from it. When they enter the Tent of Meeting they shall wash with water, that they may not die; or when they approach the altar to serve, to turn into smoke a gift to the Lord, they shall wash their hands and feet, that they may not die. It shall be a law for all time for them - for him and his offspring - throughout the ages."  

That is, thousands of years ago the Torah commanded Aaron and his sons to wash their hands - and feet - before they did certain ritual actions - in order that they should live! Jewish tradition has retained a hint of this ritual in the way that traditional Jews wash their hands when they wake each morning and the ritual washing of our hands before we do the blessing over bread.

The ritual concerning hand washing was about ritual or spiritual purity. It had nothing to do with science. And yet historians have suggested that the devotion to this religious ritual of washing hands - netilat yadayim - before eating actually contributed to the lower numbers of illness among Jews versus non-Jews during certain deadly outbreaks during the Middle Ages. Jewish rituals of handwashing literally kept our ancestors alive!

We see then that the washing of hands has long been a part of our ritual behavior and personal hygiene. Today however, washing the hands has taken on new meaning - it is a command from on-high - not only God, but the CDC, World Health Organization, our local Health Department, and even the president of the United States are telling us to repeatedly wash our hands throughout the day in order to keep ourselves and others safe from COVID-19.

This was driven home to me last week as I walked the halls of our preschool and I heard children washing their hands singing: "Rub together, in between, all around to get them clean." Friday I saw a video of Gloria Gaynor washing her hands while singing the chorus to her song Survive, "First I was afraid I was petrified, but did you think I'd crumble? Did you think I'd lay down and die? Oh, no, not I, I will survive, Oh, as long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive, I've got all my life to live, I've got all my love to give, And I'll survive, I will survive, hey, hey."

We know today then that there are both spiritual and physical reasons to wash our hands. Concerning this, Rabbi David Greenstein recently wrote:

"Cleansing ourselves of germs or other kinds of dirt and impurities requires strenuous rubbing to get rid of the germs or destroy them. But spiritual cleansing is not about destroying anything. It requires a gentler act of release and the acceptance of purity as it washes over us. Yet this act of acceptance is not only about accepting purity. It is also an act of "n'tilat yadayim - taking of one's hands." This means that we take hold of our hands as instruments of meaningful action. We take responsibility for using our hands in a holy, helpful manner."

In Jewish tradition the imperative, the mitzvah to save lives is called Pikuach Nefesh. This mitzvah is so important that if necessary one can violate Jewish law in order to save someone's life. It is with this mitzvah in mind, as well as guidance from the CDC, that our COVID-19 Task Force took the step of closing our building, including in-person services. It is, as Rabbi Greenstein wrote, in our hands to take meaningful action and bring holiness and health to the world. It is the right thing to do. Nevertheless as your rabbi I worry both about your physical health and safety, but your emotional and spiritual health as well. In times of crisis many instinctively wish to come together, but we are unable to do so at this time.

For days now we have all been told to engage in "social distancing," keeping as far as six feet away from one another. That is what we will do if necessary to stay physically healthy. Today however, I believe that rather than call that "social distancing," we should call it by its more accurate name of "physical distancing." Why do the words matter? Because during a crisis such as this it is imperative that we as a community stay connected to one another in order to help each other through this ordeal. We must serve as emotional and spiritual supports for each other by reaching out to each other through phone calls, texts, Zoom, Instagram, and all the other ways that social media can help us connect to one another. We can physically distance without socially distance.

With this in mind our Social Action Committee is looking into ways we can help one another during this period of time. Once again I urge you to let me know if there is someone you know in need of a phone call. And please know I am available by phone and email at all times. Spirituality can help get us through the darkest of times. Later this week we will be posting a link which will enable you to join me for Wednesday evening minyan, Kabbalat Shabbat services, Shabbat morning service, and Sunday morning minyan, Many of our Adult Education classes will be held on line beginning as early as this week. All are welcome to join in, even if you hadn't participated in the class prior to now. There will be multiple virtual gathering opportunities.

The Jewish people has survived crises before, as has America and the peoples of the world. I have faith that we will emerge from this as well. With hope in my heart and love for you all, I share a prayer by Rabbi Naomi Levy -- A Prayer of Hope During this Pandemic:

We are frightened, God, worried for our loved ones, worried for our world.
Helpless and confused, we turn to You seeking comfort, faith and hope.

Teach us God, to turn our panic into patience, and our fear into acts of kindness and support.
Our strong must watch out for our weak, our young must take care of our old.
Help each one of us to do our part to halt the spread of this virus.

Send strength and courage to the doctors and nurses in the frontlines of this battle,
Fortify them with the full force of their healing powers.
Send wisdom and insight to the scientists working day and night across the world to discover healing treatments.
Bless their efforts, God.
Fill our leaders with the wisdom and the courage to choose wisely and act quickly.
Help us, God, to see that we are one world, one people
Who WILL rise above this pandemic together.

May it be so.

Rabbi Michelle "Mina" Goldsmith


Sunday, March 15, 5:20 PM
Coronavirus Update: Building Closed

Dear Beth Emeth community and friends,

As our community responds to the spread of COVID-19, each of us will be called upon to make changes and perhaps difficult decisions. As members of the community, it is our obligation to do everything within our power to limit the spread of this virus, and to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

As a result, effective immediately, we are suspending all Beth Emeth in-person operations and activities.

The Rabbi will continue to be available to support families in need. Contact her via phone or email.

By limiting in-person contact, we hope to protect personal health (especially because our congregation includes people at every age and level of vulnerability), and hope to slow the spread through the community through social distancing.

While the physical building is closed, the Rabbi and staff are hard at work to develop programming that can be adapted for virtual delivery. Additionally, the Ritual Task Force, including the Rabbi, are working to identify ways to conduct our various services remotely. Please stay tuned for additional communications regarding virtual programming and services. Additionally, we will be reaching out to congregants to provide support and identify needs that we could help meet during this unprecedented challenge.

We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the CDC and local health department guidelines, state and local officials and work with medical professionals to identify when it is safe to reopen the building for in-person activities.

Please stay tuned for further communications. You can also visit the Beth Emeth website for current status and available programs.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us. Be well.

Fran Besalel
President
president@bethemeth.org

Rabbi Michelle “Mina” Goldsmith
RabbiMina@bethemeth.org

Melissa Heifetz
Executive Director
melissa@bethemeth.org


Friday, March 13, 11:15 AM
Important Updates Regarding COVID-19

Dear Beth Emeth community and friends,

We understand that this is a time of uncertainty as COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic and is spreading throughout the United States. Many in our community are feeling anxious as school systems close, sporting events postpone their seasons and various activities are cancelled or postponed.

We want to communicate Beth Emeth’s response plan to support our congregation through this time.

Religious School, BEECC and Aftercare will follow Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) policy regarding closures. With direct guidance from health officials, we have decided it would be prudent to follow FCPS decisions considering they have:

  • Many more resources at their disposal than we do
  • Obtain information faster than we do
  • Have access to medical and scientific expertise that we do not have

As you may be aware, FCPS announced just before midnight last night that they were closing schools today due to public pressure and out of an abundance of caution. This turn of events, and the timing of the announcement, is challenging for us relative to the thoughtful planning and communication we have done thus far based on the decision making by FCPS. As such, we decided to keep BEECC and Aftercare open on Friday since our teachers and families had no communication before midnight. Starting Sunday, March 15, 2020, BEECC, Aftercare, and Religious School are closed until FCPS reopens.

When FCPS reopens, we ask everyone, Parents, Congregants, and Guests to follow CDC guidance and not come to Beth Emeth or send your child to Beth Emeth if:

  • You or your child is sick
  • A member of your household has been exposed to COVID-19
  • A member of your household has traveled to a high-risk country or area within the United States within the last two weeks (as identified by the CDC)

We want to reiterate that the reason all the organizations, schools, sports teams, Kennedy Center, etc. are closing or cancelling events is to create social distancing in order to limit the number of new cases, and protect our most vulnerable populations. We are taking active measures to prevent it from becoming worse.

Beth Emeth will remain open at this time and religious services will continue to take place on their normal schedules. If you come to Beth Emeth, we recommend adherence to Health Department guidelines, and would like to emphasize the following, in order to create the safest possible environment for our members and guests:

Regarding all worship services, if you have an underlying illness or medical condition, or are elderly, the CDC recommends for your own safety, to avoid services and any large gathering of people outside of your homes. While in the building, we recommend following guidelines for good hygiene, thorough hand washing (for 20 seconds), and avoiding direct physical contact (avoid hugging, handshakes, etc.).

If you are sick, or in need of help, or if you are choosing not to attend services at this time, please reach out and let us know so we can support you.

We have left attendance of guests for tomorrow’s Bar Mitzvah up to those individuals and families. We have recommended the same restrictions to them, and in addition, have advised any person with symptoms, including fever, shortness of breath, severe cough or other undetermined illness, to not come into the building.

We are monitoring the situation carefully and all other events at Beth Emeth will be decided upon daily. We will provide updates on future Beth Emeth programs via email. At this time, we have postponed the following events:

  • Blue Yarmulke Person of the Year 
  • Chai Dinner
  • Disney Shabbat
  • Religious School B’yachad
  • Trip to Museum in Philadelphia
  • Good Deeds Day
  • Hazak Meetings

In addition, anyone who has traveled to a high-risk country or area within the United States, is asked not to come to the Beth Emeth. As per the Department of Health guidelines, travel restrictions are currently extended to May 1, but that recommendation may change.

We also ask that you observe CDC guidance and self-quarantine for 14 days if anyone in your household has been exposed to COVID-19 or traveled to a high-risk country or area within the United States. We ask that you adhere to this guidance rather than risk the health of our students, members, staff and guests.  

It is now known that the vast majority of people exposed to COVID-19, will not develop a serious illness, but there are many with mild or minimal symptoms who may carry the virus, nonetheless. Close contact is within six feet of an infected individual, but surfaces can also carry the virus. Therefore, careful attention to personal hygiene, hand cleaning, and your surroundings is most important. Routine use of masks is not effective.

Furthermore, we have enhanced our cleaning practices and are urging members and guests to follow CDC recommendations including frequent 20 second hand washing and self-isolation if you or a family member are sick.

This is a fluid situation and has rapidly changed over the last 48 hours. We expect that things will continue to change and we will respond accordingly. We appreciate your flexibility and patience as events continue to change.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

Fran Besalel
President
president@bethemeth.org

Rabbi Michelle “Mina” Goldsmith
RabbiMina@bethemeth.org

Melissa Heifetz
Executive Director 
melissa@bethemeth.org


Tuesday, March 17
CBE Caring Community support for COVID-19

Congregation Beth Emeth (CBE) wants to help any congregant who is self-isolating by running errands such as grocery shopping and medication pickups. Please take a look at the sign up genius and let us know if you need assistance or if you are someone who can help out others.

Sat, October 31 2020 13 Cheshvan 5781