by Lynn Urbach, President
I want to give you an update on our response at Bet Ha’am to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rabbi Saks, Sam Spinrad, Rachel Lefkowitz, and I are in frequent contact with each other and are regularly discussing the most recent recommendations from the national and state Centers for Disease Control (CDCs), the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR, the Reform Rabbinic leadership organization), and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The Bet Ha’am Executive Committee and Board of Trustees are also in the loop with ad hoc meetings and communication.
- Due to the excellent leadership and prompt response of our treasurer, Tom Rosen, we applied for the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) the first day applications were accepted. Not only were we approved, we have already received the funds! This will allow us to continue to pay our staff through June 30 despite our decreased income due to the loss of rental business and other sources.
- A number of congregants have come up with ideas to keep us all connected. Watch for emails (already arrived and soon to come) about discussion groups and book groups. The youth group is working on a scavenger hunt!
- Do you have an idea for an activity that allows for community interaction while maintaining physical distancing? We are interested in hearing from you. Do you want to coordinate a social hour for parents of young kids, a happy hour for young adults, or a schmooze session of any sort? Contact the office and we can help you set it up.
- All of our staff—Chris Skidgel, Karen Hindall, Teri Berenson, Ivan Gonzalez, and Hannah Herbold—are diligently working to keep our building maintained, programs and services running, and billing and receiving up to date. Come to our virtual services and be greeted by Ivan, just like in the “old” days!
- A shout-out to our synagogue administrator, Rachel Lefkowitz, who has been tirelessly toiling not only to perform her regular tasks, but is also taking on new responsibilities such learning and implementing all that is necessary for everything from Zoom security to managing a staff that is not used to remote work to helping volunteers do their work under these challenging conditions.
- We continue to answer calls for help from members of our community. The Mitzvah Corps, coordinated by Jay Sherwin, has had seventy-one people sign up to help. Some of them are already actively helping; others are still waiting for an opportunity. If you want an ongoing phone-partner visit (kind of like a pen pal) or if you’d like some help with grocery shopping, please fill out this form.
- We came to the difficult but necessary to not hold our annual fundraiser, A Storied Affair. PLEASE SUPPORT THIS YEAR’S VIRTUAL FUNDRAISER, A DIFFERENT STORY. You can support it now by clicking here. Our budget depends on the revenue from this event. Learn more about A Different Story here or in the weekly email.
- Services will remain virtual.
- Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations will either be virtual or will be rescheduled. Rabbi Saks is in contact with the families involved.
- Religious school will be virtual for the remainder of the school year. Sam Spinrad is coordinating classes, end-of-year programs, and teacher appreciation.
- All Bet Ha’am programs will require social distancing.
- New policies are in place or are being developed for all life-cycle events, including funerals and shiva services.
Please know that we are here for you. If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to talk about anything Bet Ha’am, feel free to email me at president @ bethaam.org. I always like hearing from our community.
I am so grateful for the support of our congregants and friends during this time–for attending services, offering discussion groups, planning our gala fundraiser, helping to shop for groceries. I am proud to be a part of this vibrant and caring community. Thank you.
L’shalom u’livriut–to peace, wholeness, and health.