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update as of 8.4.21

August 4, 2021

Shalom friends,
 
During this pandemic, we continue to make difficult choices about what is safe for our community. While we wish to return to normal and gather all together once again, the health and safety of our congregation and staff is of the utmost importance. Jewish tradition teaches the value of pikuach nefesh, safeguarding life. We have an ethical and moral responsibility to protect our community members. Recognizing this priority, we encourage all members to get vaccinated. We want you to be informed of our temple's policies so you can make the appropriate decisions for you and your family.
 
Due to the seriousness of the Delta variant, the rapid increase in the number of COVID cases locally and revised guidance from the CDC, the Temple Regathering Task Force met this week to review our policies and procedures. In an effort to keep our members and staff as safe as possible, the following changes are being implemented immediately until further notice.

  1. Masks are now required at indoor events at the Temple for individuals over the age of two. 
  2. Food service will not be offered.
  3. We will continue to require pre-registration to attend services in-person. Our capacity will be limited.
  4. If you are not vaccinated, please take advantage of the livestream options we provide.
  5. If you are vaccinated and would like to attend services in-person, you must wear a mask and respect social distance norms.

 
Although we wish we could fill the Sanctuary to capacity, we cannot safely do so at this time. As a result, we have instituted some changes for High Holy Days. To accommodate the needs of those attending in-person as well as those watching at home, our services will be shorter in length. Other adjustments will be implemented, and we will strive to provide a meaningful High Holy Days experience for everyone – in-person or at home.
 
During High Holy Days, if you prefer to worship in-person, you must pre-register, wear a mask and social distance. Capacity will be limited and childcare will not be provided during the main service. For those who prefer to worship from home, we encourage you to stay home and watch the livestream. Additionally, prayer books will be available for those who choose to join us from the safety of their home. We will provide days and times when these may be picked up in future communications.
 
Due to the rapidly changing COVID environment, decisions shared today may change once again as the situation evolves. We appreciate your patience, flexibility and understanding. We look forward to the time when we can gather all together again in-person. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
 
May we continue to display courage and resilience as we support one another through these challenging times.
 
L’shalom,
 
Jenn Mangold - 
Rabbi           
Mike Shapiro - President
Sarah Gotlieb - Executive Director


 

reopening stages update - 3.31.21

March 31, 2021

Temple Beth-El leadership and staff recognize the importance of finding ways for our community to come back together as we continue to navigate the changing world of the COVID-19 pandemic. TBE’s COVID Re-Opening Task Force continues to meet regularly to assess the latest community health information to make informed decisions about when and how to resume in-person activities.

Dr. David Berman is a pediatric infectious disease specialist as well as a congregant, and has been a valuable resource to our Task Force. Our plans remain a work-in-progress as we watch the data and new CDC recommendations and guidelines, with our continued priority being to provide a safe and healthy environment for our congregants.
 
On March 26, we held our first two outdoor Friday night services – it was wonderful to be together again in person (socially distanced and masked, of course!). We will hold at least one more outdoor service in both April and May (which will also be streamed virtually)
 
Because our Sanctuary and Social Hall are under construction through May, we are considering additional outdoor options or potential plans for gatherings in the Library as the summer months approach and the temperature heats up. 
 
No matter what gatherings and events are held over the next several months, the following protocols will continue to be enforced:

  • Masks required at all times.
  • Social distance of 6’ with any person outside of your family group/pod.
  • Hand washing/sanitizing by participants when necessary.
  • Restrooms will be open if necessary with the outer door remaining open for ventilation.

 
We all look forward to resuming “normal” life in the near future. The most important thing that we can all do to help TBE return to “normalcy” as quickly as possible is GET YOUR COVID-19 VACCINE WHEN ELIGIBLE. The virus is highly contagious. More than 500,000 people have died in the United States over this past year and thousands of people have been left with permanent disabilities. Vaccination is a shared responsibility – it will not only protect yourself but also protect the health of our Temple community. It is our expectation that those who are eligible will get vaccinated to protect others that are not eligible for the vaccine at this time. The vaccines are safe and effective, and as more people receive them and more data comes out about how the vaccine controls the spread of COVID-19 in the community, TBE will be able to make informed decisions about how quickly we can get back to the larger gatherings we all desire. The more people who are vaccinated and the lower the case counts are in our area, the quicker we can return to indoor gatherings. 
 
Preservation of life and maintaining health are important Jewish values. We can all embrace these values and improve the public health of our community by taking preventive measures – wear your mask, avoid crowded indoor spaces, and get vaccinated! 

 


October 16, 2020

As our state and some local governments have begun to relax formal restrictions on gathering together, we thought it important to address questions you may have regarding if and when it's appropriate to reopen our temple.  
 
Our Reopening Task Force at TBE, with the counsel of medical professionals and staff are carefully considering decisions regarding the return to in-person gatherings. We will continue to heed the advice and wisdom of these and other experts and when appropriate, act in accordance with specified re-opening phases.  

Above is the TBE Reopening Task force chart listing the re-opening stages. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 infection in our community and, as a result, our re-opening stages as they become appropriate.

 

Reopening Task Force of Temple Beth-El 

Diann Stern, Judy Ciurczak, Kendra Cluck, Lisa Cohen, Rabbi Michael Torop, Reid Silverboard, Roger Cohen,
Sarah Gotlieb, Stefani Margolis, Steve Jenkins, Stacy Conroy, Allison Solo and Dr. David Berman


July 6, 2020

Some of the fondest memories we all have are together at Temple Beth-El. We love our community
and want to keep the safety and security of each of you as the absolute highest priority. Many conversations have occurred (beginning in early April, 2020) with the focus of keeping our community connected and
engaged, while taking into consideration ways to return to TBE and gather together. Three different task
forces have been formed with this focus in mind: ECC Reopening Task Force, COVID Financial Task Force,
and the COVID Reopening Task Force that is primarily developing the phases and plans for our community
to safety meet in-person in the months to come.


The COVID Reopening Task Force looks to science as well as our Jewish values to help guide us.

Pikuah Nefesh - "Safeguarding Life"
This is the bedrock principle of Jewish law, and supersedes most other obligation or mitzvot. To that end,
we must ensure that any steps toward restoring physical proximity place preserving life first and foremost.

Hesed - "Profound Love and Kindness"
Decisions around our operations and the risks involved create uncertainty, grief, and anxiety, and we must act
with tremendous love and kindess towards the members of our families, communities, and the world at large.

Currently, Temple Beth-El will continue to follow the recommendation of the clergy who serve the
Tampa Bay Jewish community, and will remain closed for in-person services & programs through the end of August. This will give the Task Force a few months of planning and carefully watching trends in order to evaluate and provide an update closer to the end of August. This cross-section of individuals from our community are utilizing resources, available trainings, data and research from the CDC and similar organizations to develop a plan of action regarding religious services, programs, events and educational programming which will be released to our community.

We understand the desire to gather together again and have had some congregants question whether
we were being too cautious in our decision to follow CDC guidelines rather than state guidelines.
We value the safety and security of our community above all else and with the uncertain nature of COVID-19,
we feel we are not being overly cautious! We have many members who fall within the high risk
population and because an asymptomatic person can unknowingly spread the virus we must consider
all of our community's health and safety above our desire to gather in-person.

Our COVID Reopening Task Force is in its' formulative stages and we would love to hear from YOU!
Please take a couple minutes and complete our REOPENING QUESTIONNAIRE HERE. If there are
any questions throughout this process, please contact our Co-Presidents, Stefani Margolis and Lisa Cohen,
until a chair has been determined.

 

updates to programs & events

In order to keep our environment sanitized, our building is currently not open. Please call our Temple office at (727) 347-6136 or email admin@templebeth-el.com for questions Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm. 

All services will be live-streamed through various platforms till further notice. For the latest information on programs, services & events, please CLICK HERE for our EVENTS page.   


Rabbi Michael Torop and our Director of Pastoral Care, Cantor Pamela Siskin, are available if you need to talk. CLICK HERE to request a video conference with the Rabbi or send either of them an email and you will get a call back.

Rabbi Michael Torop - rabbitorop@templebeth-el.com

Cantor Pamela Siskin - prsiskin@gmail.com 

Please check out our ECC (Early Childhood Center), Sunday School and Youth pages for additional information. 

Sunday School Covid-19 & Influenza Adaptations Information

covid19 update - may 8, 2020

Covid19Updates

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Thank you for clicking “play” so that I could offer a few words of introduction to the email text that is below! First of all, I want everyone in our extended Temple Beth-El family to know that your clergy, staff team and leadership are here to help guide our congregational life and program through the current public health crisis we are facing. I know how hard it must be for some of you to remain calm in the face of the growing uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic. Others of you might be concerned that we are being alarmist or feeding into the developing public sense of panic. For this Shabbat, regardless of your perspective on the situation, I invite you to breathe deeply, to let peacefulness enter our souls, to search for a way to find your calm center, and join us in a thoughtful and prudent approach to keeping our community safe, healthy and connected in the weeks and months ahead.

We are in the business of bringing people together, so telling you to stay apart, or to maintain a meaningful “social distance” when with one another is very difficult. Our Jewish values guide us to build personal connections, to form bonds that sustain our spiritual journey, to hold hands high in celebration, to bring another close to offer comfort and solace. Yet, we can also be open to how we re-imagine these invisible lines of connection, how we create new ways to both preserve everyone’s health and sustain our communal bonds through innovative and modern methods. So, let’s take this journey together. And, even if we do not “touch”, let’s stay in touch! Shabbat Shalom!

Covid19Updates

March 12, 2020  |  17 Adar 5780

 

Dear Friends,

In these uncertain times, the rabbinic, professional and lay leadership of the Jewish community in Pinellas County want to assure each of you of our entire community’s unified approach to the evolving situation around Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on public Jewish life. The health, safety and well-being of you who participate in any aspect of the community has always been and remains our highest priority.
 
The primary value of pikuach nefesh, the saving or preserving of life, is a paramount mitzvah that transcends virtually all others. From dramatic rescues to judicious precautions, care of health is fundamental in our tradition. But it is also critical to strike a balance between justified concern and impulsive fear. The only thing that can render a threat to the well-being of a community more damaging is to allow fear to obscure fact. Your communal leaders are striving to be thoughtful and measured in our responses to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus Pandemic, knowing that these approaches may be modulated in light of future developments.

Temple Beth-El, Congregation Beth Shalom, Congregation B’nai Israel, Temple B’nai Israel, Temple Ahavat Shalom, and the Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast, have agreed to the following course of action:

  1. As of this coming Shabbat and continuing through the month of April, we will all invite worshippers to stay at home and join Shabbat services via the livestream, video conferencing or other online video platforms (Facebook) that each of the congregations will be using. We will suspend plans to serve food publicly for the time being. 
     
  1. We are committed to reinventing ourselves to find unique ways to study and learn, to meet and conduct community business, and to enable us to remain a cohesive and strong Jewish community. Watch for future announcements from the congregation and the wider Jewish community for opportunities to engage in online learning, podcasts and webinars, interactive video conferencing, and so much more. 
     
  1. Our goal is to limit the number and scope of in-person gatherings, so that only those that are necessary and of limited size and duration are held.  
     
  1. Individuals and families planning a simcha in the next two months are being asked to consult with their own rabbi to determine the best course of action. 
     
  1. Each congregation will be making independent decisions about their early childhood centers, as well as the remainder of their youth engagement programming.
     

We endorse and encourage everyone to follow the CDC guidelines on hand washing, using hand sanitizer, avoiding public venues if you are sick , maintaining increased social distancing when with others, and, most importantly, taking whatever actions are needed to protect the most vulnerable populations in nursing homes and ALF’s, those aged 60+, people who are immunosuppressed or already facing other health challenges.

Having consulted with medical experts and government officials, including the Pinellas County Department of Health, we used an abundance of caution in reaching this consensus. We are committed to take steps that are known to reduce the possibility of communal transmission of the virus before the rate of infection increases to levels that will trigger mandatory government action.

Mayor Rick Kriseman (St. Petersburg) offered this message of support:

"As people of faith, it is important that we find strength in that faith during these challenging times. My administration is working diligently to monitor this rapidly changing situation -- public safety is our most important job. That is why I want to thank Rabbi Michael Torop, President of the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis, and the entire Jewish community of our county for recognizing the gravity of this situation and for being proactive in protecting their congregations.”

Finally, and most importantly, it is at times of stress and uncertainty, personal or communal, that our congregational community is a beacon of support and solace. Our tradition teaches us to care for one another at times of need, and to reach out to one another to anticipate need. This is an opportune time to check in on an elderly neighbor who lives alone or on a friend who might need a hand with groceries. So, pick up the phone…bring a smile to someone’s face with a random act of kindness…stay connected to one another, and to Temple Beth-El.

שבת שלום ומבורך!
Shabbat Shalom u’mevorach,

May this Shabbat be filled with Blessing, Wholeness, Unity and Peace!
 
Michael Torop, Rabbi                                                 Lisa Cohen, Co-President
Sarah Gotlieb, Executive Director                              Stefani Margolis, Co-President

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Mon, December 6 2021 2 Tevet 5782