COVID Policy Update

Dear WJC Family,

With COVID infection rates rising and the specter of the Omicron variant looming, we have reviewed our current COVID protocols with our COVID Task Force and synagogue leadership.

Please read the following carefully. It is important.

While we do not believe major changes in our current protocols are necessary, we do feel that this is a time for increased vigilance and scrupulous adherence to these protocols, which are in compliance with the recent New York State mask mandate.

As a reminder, we are currently requiring that all attendees of indoor synagogue programming over the age of 12 be fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means a minimum of two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (one of J&J)—though we highly recommend and strongly encourage everyone to get boosters when eligible. We are not checking for proof of vaccination at entry points but reserve the right to require proof at our discretion.

We are continuing to enforce our universal masking policy, regardless of vaccination status, for everyone 2 years or older. The only exception is when people are presenting from the bima during services (and we will be leaving front rows open to maximize space) or when eating Kiddush. Eating Kiddush means just that—eating. This is not permission to socialize without masks in the Kiddush rooms. Whenever possible we will open both the Activity Room and the gym for Kiddush to allow for as much space as possible, and leave doors open to the outside when possible. Except when raining/snowing, we will always have a table available outside for those who want to eat Kiddush in overcoats (the Kiddush Polar Bear Club).

We will have Torah for Tots outside when possible. This will be a decision communicated in the Friday email. If the weather looks questionable on Friday we will hold Torah for Tots indoors. Our custodial staff needs to know what they are doing in advance and cannot change the set-up to outside at the last minute.

When sitting in Shul or congregating in other areas, please be considerate of the feelings of others. Don’t sit or stand close to people you don’t know, who may not be comfortable with it. Maintain a safe distance from others and do not make assumptions that your close presence or physical contact is welcome. Please be courteous and respectful of others’ sensitivities. Beyond the general building policies we are all trying to deal with this situation as best we can and are drawing our own lines. Let’s try to honor those lines.

We are going to take another look at our signage and do our best to make the protocols clear to anyone that enters the building. However, we do not have “COVID police” and need to rely on all of you—both to monitor your own behavior and that of your families. If you see someone who is not complying with our protocols, please approach them politely and let them know. It is probably an oversight. If this results in resistance do not handle it yourself—let a member of the synagogue leadership, or, if appropriate, a security guard, know.

We will get through this, though it seems likely that some people will contract COVID-19 due to infectious variants. We can expect that. Let’s be careful to make sure the synagogue is as safe as possible, but not overreact. We are in a far different place than we were before. Vaccination rates in Westchester are very high—over 90 percent of adults—and I dare say even higher among our members; more treatments are available, and the threat of serious disease is far lower. Vaccinated persons are no longer required to quarantine, eliminating the threat of having to shut down due to a positive test. We are not out of the woods by any means and need to stay vigilant and help each other, but the overall situation has improved.

As I have said before, our approach is to be safe and at the same time as welcoming as we reasonably can. Some people might think we should be more restrictive and some less. I am confident that if we all take our COVID protocols seriously, we will continue to move forward together safely as a community.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you again for your cooperation, support of WJC and one another in these trying times. This goes particularly to our leadership—clergy, educational, office, and custodial staff, officers, trustees, and other lay leaders. It takes a whole Shul—and we have a great one.

On behalf of Robin, myself, and our family, we wish you all a Happy New Year 2022.

Seth Schafler

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