COVID-19 Protocols for In-Person Gatherings
The leadership of Bet Ha’am is committed to the health and safety of our congregants, clergy, staff, and visitors. Our current COVID-19 protocols follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and the policies established by the Governor’s Office and Maine Department of Public Health. This section explains our current policies and mitigation efforts. Please review it carefully and contact the Bet Ha’am office if you have questions. This section may be updated frequently and without notice.
Message from Rabbi Saks
In Jewish tradition, the role of community is central. We are referred to as Am Yisrael, the Jewish people, not as Dat Yisrael, the Jewish religion. Synagogues and Jewish communities are referred to in Hebrew as Kehilah Kedoshah, holy community. And in the Talmud (Shevuot 39a) we read, Kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba-zeh, all Jews are responsible for one another. This rabbinic principle is the basis of the notion of communal responsibility in Jewish law. If one Jew sees another Jew at the verge of sinning, they have an obligation to step in and help. Even more so, it implies an obligation on all Jews to ensure that other Jews have their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter met. Simply by virtue of being part of a Jewish community, one is responsible for the well-being of all other members of that community, and vice versa.
With this principle in mind we approach the work of operating our building during the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with Jewish tradition, each person considering in-person participation at Congregation Bet Ha’am must consider not only the risk posed to themselves, but also the risk to which they expose others who also choose to be present. In order for our community to be able to gather in person, we will rely upon the full honesty of each member of our community in self-screening. Consider not only your own desire to be in person, but what it means for you to be part of a holy community, to bear responsibility for the well-being of others. Each time you consider coming to Bet Ha’am for in-person programming, ask yourself, “Have I engaged in any behavior that will put others at risk?” This is what it means to be a holy community and to be responsible for one another.
At this time, our weekly Shabbat Worship Services are offered in-person with an option to join us via Zoom. COVID-19 vaccination is encouraged for all who are eligible, but not required to attend in-person services.
Note: For those who feel most comfortable worshipping in an indoor environment where everyone is masked, we offer a monthly “masks required” Evening Shabbat Worship Service the last Friday of each month (subject to change). In addition, we require masking at all Contemplative Worship Services.
Religious School classes meet in-person with an option to participate via Zoom.
Religious School COVID-19 Policy (effective August 24, 2022)
For the 2022-2023 school year, Bet Ha’am’s COVID-19 Policy is as follows:
- COVID-19 vaccination is not required as a condition of enrollment.
- Masking is optional for vaccinated children.
- Masking is required for unvaccinated children.
In an effort to make our Religious School program accessible to all, vaccination is no longer required as a condition of enrollment. Masking will be optional for those students who are vaccinated and unvaccinated students will be required to mask while indoors.
Bet Ha’am follows the CDC Community Level Guidelines for non-religious school programs and services. Masking is optional as long as our community level is green or yellow. Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC are updated every Thursday by 8 pm ET. For questions related to current community levels, please contact the Bet Ha’am office.
We are taking the following steps to protect everyone’s health and safety:
- Masks and hand sanitizer will be available.
- Physical distancing will be encouraged at all times except for members of the same household.
- HVAC filters in the new building have been upgraded to MERV-13, the standard recommended by CDC guidelines and HVAC professionals.