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Reopening Update - March 22, 2021

 

Dear Members and Friends,

We’ve certainly been through many ups and downs with the COVID-19 situation since temporary loosening of restrictions last summer.  Right now, it seems that we’re in both an up and a down situation simultaneously: the availability of the COVID vaccines is definitely grounds for optimism, but the accelerating presence of COVID variants is a significant concern.  Toronto has moved from a lockdown phase into the Grey Zone in terms of public health measures, and the Mayor and Chief Medical Officer of Toronto have just asked the province to leave Toronto in the Grey Zone with a few modified restrictions rather than move into the less stringent Red Zone.  

In a recent communication, the Toronto Jewish Community COVID-19 Task Force (informally known as Kol HaCovid) expressed concern that any large gatherings put people at risk, especially with regard to the COVID variants, even if safety precautions (masks, social distancing, etc.) are observed.  While there has been a relative decline in infections in Toronto over the past weeks, recently the numbers have increased, in part due to one of the COVID variants.  

Given these concerns, we are not expecting to reopen for services or other activities anytime soon. Our Passover services and events will be online, as described in What’s On.  While the current Grey Zone restrictions allow for in-person attendance at religious services of up to 15% of a house of worship’s capacity, we continue to take the stance that it would violate our sense of community to divide the congregation into those who can attend services, and those who can’t (for example, elders and people with health conditions).  Furthermore, the current COVID-related restrictions, such as no congregational singing, would make services feel somewhat empty and sad.

We will continue to monitor and follow the guidance of public health officials and the Toronto Jewish Community COVID-19 Task Force.  Our approach will continue to be a conservative one, given the continuing risks that the virus and its variants pose to our health.  Looking to the future, it’s not too early to ask what we will we be doing for the High Holidays.  At this point, however, it’s too early to tell, given the many unknowns about the course of the COVID-19 situation over the next few months. Even if in-person services become a realistic possibility, some form of online participation will continue to be an option as well.

There is no doubt that we continue to feel longing for simple human contact when we are grieving or celebrating, praying or learning, and ache for a time when we’ll be able to feel each other’s presence, warmth, and caring in person rather than online.  In the meantime, we will continue to stay strong, engaged, and supportive as a community through our online gatherings.  We’re fortunate to have been able to offer Shabbat services and a wide range of programs online, and we will continue to do so, through the great work of our service leaders and programming volunteers.

Stay well.

 

Mon, 6 December 2021 2 Tevet 5782