We learn in a famous Talmudic phrase Kol Yisrael areivin ze ba-zeh –this means “We are all responsible for one another” (Sanhedrin 27b). This applies not only to helping each other, but also to our obligation to protect the public health. With COVID-19, most people who get the virus are going to have minimal symptoms. However, even if we are only mildly sick, we are immediately vectors of transmission. For the sake of our friends who are vulnerable, for the sake of public health, and out of concern for others, we at Bet Ha’am are making some hard but thoughtful decisions.

Our goal as a synagogue is to bring people together, so asking our community to stay away, or asking people to gather but to keep a meaningful physical distance, is very difficult. We have decided on a mixture of “social distancing,” canceling or postponing programs, and live-streaming. Please know that we will reevaluate these decisions frequently. Please know that they are based on what our colleagues are doing both nationwide and here in Maine, along with recommendations from the CDC.

In the coming weeks, Friday night Shabbat services will be live-streamed on Facebook. You do not need a Facebook account to join us. Please click this link at the scheduled service time. You do not need to log in. There will not be in-person services.

We will soon have updates on whether Saturday morning Torah study and Saturday morning services will be held on Zoom, live-streamed, or not held at all. There will not be in-person services.

Religious School will meet on Zoom or a similarly online learning platform. It will not meet in the building.

We are considering if we will hold events (like our Bernstein Scholar in Residence, our Second Night Passover Seder, and our school trip to Montreal). We will have updates in the coming weeks.

The office will be open during regular hours, Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. However, we encourage you to call or email us, rather than coming to the office.

If you do come to our building, we encourage you

  • To wash your hands when you arrive and frequently thereafter.
  • To pick up your own prayerbook.
  • To leave an empty chair or two between people who do not live with you when you are in the sanctuary and to observe a distance of six feet when standing with others.

We are reassessing our response daily. However, we already know that protecting our community will involve substantial unanticipated expenses. Please give generously if you can.
If you have questions, please email the office.

We are grateful for your understanding as we navigate this difficult time.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

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