Dear WJC Family,
This week in synagogue we will read the double portion of Tazria-Metzorah, a VERY thorough and graphic exploration of a disease called tzara’at that affects human skin, buildings and even clothing. The time was that these portions read like a strange and archaic medical textbook. Their sole remaining purpose seemed to be giving bar and bat mitzvah students fits trying to write a compelling Dvar Torah about sores with a white hair vs. those with a black hair or whether or not the moldy residue on a house goes around a corner or not. But times have changed.
Suddenly, the practice of placing those with a contagious disease outside of the community to quarantine doesn’t sound so archaic. Fearing a disease whose spread we don’t fully understand and whose treatment remains a mystery is not a distant, genetic memory but is instead recent history. Thank God though, despite the relevance of these passages today, modern medicine is fast giving us a better understanding of the novel coronavirus and its disease Covid-19, not to mention ever-evolving treatments and the miraculous vaccine. Thanks to those advances and to our incredibly dedicated and talented Covid-19 Task Force (join me in honoring them at our Gala in May) we are able to change some of our synagogue protocols and still gather as safely as possible.
Some of the changes to be aware of – 1) starting this week those speaking from the bimah (who are at least 12 feet away from anyone else) can remove their masks just while they speak. The rabbis and Bnai mitzvah are grateful for this. However, due to the nature of singing, those leading prayers and chanting passages from the Torah and haftarah will still wear their masks. 2) Services will start at 9:15 with the Preliminary service and continue straight through to the end with no break. Those attending in person can arrive whenever they would like and make their way to their seats. 3) There will no longer be assigned seats, but rather there will be designated pod areas of 2-6 seats. Depending on the number of people in your group, you will proceed to an empty seating area of your choice. The available seats, all properly distanced by 8-feet, will be clearly marked.
These changed protocols are a testament to our evolving understanding of the virus, as well as the dedicated work of our staff and volunteers to keep people safe while creating a meaningful spiritual environment. I hope that you will consider joining us in person for services, especially if you have been vaccinated. Of course, the services are all still available on the live stream. Kabbalat Shabbat (not including ma’ariv) will begin on Friday night at 6:15 and Havdalah will be at 8:30pm, both on Zoom only.
There are a whole host of additional great programs coming down the pike over the next couple of weeks, so check out the highlights below and in the Monday email next week.