In light of Covid-19 cases that are on the rise in our area and new restrictions established by St. Louis County, I requested guidance from physicians and a health professional who are members of NHBZ, whether protocol changes were advisable for the minyanim currently taking place within our synagogue building. I have included below their response which advises that due to the increased risk to the NHBZ community, all minyanim be limited to a maximum of 15 people.
To that end, the following procedure will be in place for Shabbos morning services, beginning this Shabbat, November 21.
- Twelve men and three women will be eligible to attend.
- Four of the twelve men automatically on each week’s list will be Rabbi Okin, our Torah reader, our gabbai, and one gentleman who is an avel (a mourner).
- Others interested in attending must sign up in advance by Thursday at 5:00 P.M. by emailing email@example.com or by calling Jeff at 314 991-2100 x 2
- If by Friday morning there are not 15 individuals who have pre-registered, our gabbai will contact members to fill in any remaining spots.
It is with a saddened heart that I compose this message, understanding that these new guidelines may preclude some of our dear members from attending Shabbos morning services. Nevertheless, I trust that the entire NHBZ community will understand the life-and-death health risk Covid-19 poses, and will be grateful for the informed guidance our synagogue’s dedicated medical professionals have given us during these dangerous and trying times.
In light of trends in COVID-19 cases in St. Louis County since the beginning of October, which result in an increased risk of an infected individual attending an indoor function without yet being aware that they are infected, the medical committee met Sunday afternoon and considered a broad variety of possible policy changes, ranging from no change whatsoever to returning to the suspension of all indoor activities that was necessary last spring. After a discussion of the medical merit of the different options available, the committee is making the following recommendations:
- All minyanim, morning and evening, weekdays and Shabbos, should be limited to 15 attendees.
- The length of the Shabbos service should be reduced from three hours to two hours.
The other existing requirements – age restrictions, masking requirements, social distancing, affirmation by the attendees that they have not experienced any of the symptoms, monitoring temperature on weekday services, etc – must remain in place.
The committee will continue to monitor the case rates and will revisit this recommendation as rates change. We all look forward to the time when the citizens of St. Louis county have taken all the steps possible for as long as necessary to reduce the case rate to the point that risks have returned to the level prior to the holidays.
Dr. Alan Brook
Dr. Faye Cohen
Dr. Daniel Morgensztern
Dr. Adrian Shifren