Statement on COVID-19 policies

To the Shir Ami Community,

We are closely monitoring the rapidly developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization, the City of Austin, and the State of Texas. We understand your concerns about the pandemic and realize that difficult, but realistic, measures must be put into place.

Effective immediately, all face-to-face communal events at Congregation Shir Ami are canceled indefinitely. This includes religious services, including the Community Second Night Passover Seder formerly scheduled for April 9. As noted by national organizations, we must proceed as though this pandemic will last for a season, not just a couple of weeks.

Social Distancing? Yes, and as Rev. Joanna Crawford said to Rabbi Reice yesterday, “Let’s say ‘physical distancing and social connection.’” This goal of remaining connected, while physically apart, is key to how we can continue to know and serve one other throughout this difficult time.

Committee meetings will be held via the easy-to-use Zoom app (https://zoom.us/download). New to Zoom? Our friends at LOUU made a cute, under 4 minute video to walk everyone through the process – no matter your age or stage in life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmPNScl1Kkg. All committee chairs will be able to set up and run meetings which allow the participation of anyone with a computer, tablet, smartphone, or other device that can access the web AND a completely free, Basic Zoom account (https://zoom.us/signup). We realize this shift to digital connection will be uncomfortable for some. The Board will be making every effort to make your use of the technology as easy as possible.

What about Shabbat worship and Religious School? April’s special Family Caregivers Shabbat Services and Events are being rescheduled for November 6, 2020. April 3rd Friday Night Services at 7:30pm will be offered online. Congregation Shir Ami is securing technology to allow services to be conducted over Zoom. Other options, such as live streaming, are being actively explored. Specific details will come out over email as we get closer to April 3. The Religious School will be moving online after spring break, starting on Wednesday, March 25 at 5pm on Zoom.

As always, Rabbi Reice will be available to you for pastoral care, spiritual support, and other Rabbinic services. Email Amy Dark (administrator@shir-ami.com) to schedule times for face-to-face conversations with Rabbi Reice in our new Zoom meeting room (physically distant, socially connected).

We will continue to review the ongoing situation based on evolving COVID-19 reports and requirements from public health agencies and will keep you updated on any changes.

In this challenging time, we urge you to heed public health warnings to protect not only your own health, but that of your family and community. We urge you to remember that in Jewish law the preservation of life, pikuach nefesh, supersedes almost all other commandments.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact President Bob Ledman at congregation@shir-ami.com.

Kol tuv l’kulam (Wishing all y’all all the best),

Bob Ledman

President of the Board of Trustees

 

Rabbi Rebecca Reice

March 16, 2020