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High Holidays Update 5781

07/02/2020 03:46:55 PM


Dear Rodfei Zedek,

Many of you have asked, “When will the building open?” and “What will we do for the High Holy Days?” Here are our plans. 

Opening the building

Earlier this month, I appointed a “Re-Opening Committee” to develop the policies and procedures necessary for us to safely return to our building. The Committee has been meeting weekly, and expects to have draft policies and procedures ready by mid July. Once the document is finalized, we will distribute it to the congregation.  We will follow the guidance of Illinois and Chicago for Phase 4 of the “Restore Illinois Plan,” in which gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed. 

The Re-Opening Committee members are Jim Gimpel (chair), Dr. Daniel Johnson (Professor of Pediatrics, University of Chicago, Infectious Disease specialist), Dr. Philip Hoffman (Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago), Dr. Joanna Martin (Palliative Care, Jesse Brown VA), Cantor Rosenberg, Rabbi Minkus, Liana Dillaway, and me. We thank the Committee members for their careful examination of the issues and for their recommendations for the safety of our community in the building over the coming months.

High Holy Days 

I want to follow up regarding Rabbi Minkus’ recent email describing our plans for the High Holy Days. Personally, my two favorite moments in the entire Jewish year are Kol Nidre and Neilah—mixed with the solemnity, I feel a sense of excitement at being together with our community, and joy at hearing our voices sing together.  The thought of not being together in the building saddens me, and without question, the decision to hold virtual rather than in person services was painful and difficult.  

This decision is based on the realization that there are too many uncertainties to even consider holding services within the building. If there is a surge in COVID cases, we could be back in Phase 3 (gatherings of 10), or even Phase 2 (no gatherings) in September. And, we would have to determine which 50 people would be allowed into the building and which of several hundred would have to gather virtually.

We have chosen, instead, to focus our energy and our resources on creating meaningful and engaging virtual services, study sessions, programs and prayers for our children, and social chat rooms. We will distribute machzorim (High Holy Day Prayerbooks) to the congregation. We will offer Zoom and Facebook coaching sessions for everyone who wants help ahead of time, and have someone available on-line during services to help. Making our decision early gives us more time to plan carefully and creatively, and to obtain the technological consultation necessary for high quality virtual services.

We are not alone in coming to this decision—we know from meetings of the Chicago Association for Synagogue Administration that most, if not all synagogues, are planning virtual High Holy Day services. 

I have now had some time to process and grieve the loss of in-person services; others are just beginning to do so. Please know that we understand and respect that people will process this differently, and know that our community will continue to support one another. Please know that we made the decision we think best ensures the safety and well being of the Rodfei Zedek community at this time.

We will continue to be in touch with additional information throughout the summer.

I look forward to the time we will be together!


Diane Altkorn

President, Congregation Rodfei Zedek

Mon, October 18 2021 12 Cheshvan 5782