July 2020 -- Tammuz-Av 5780,  Volume 26, Issue 7

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Some Community Synagogues Gradually Re-open

By Stephen E. Lipken


With Westchester community synagogues gradually re-opening, Lincoln Park Jewish Center, {LPJC} Yonkers opened their doors on Saturday, June 6th.  LPJC Rabbi Levi Welton presented his thoughts regarding the safety of his congregation.


“Many people in our community were eager to re-open as soon as possible.  I was not one of them.” Rabbi Welton noted. “Our President Jack Schweizer attended hours and hours of meetings with local leadership in Westchester, contacted the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and called upon all the different protocols coming from the Governor.


“It is my belief that while religious services may be essential, the Torah’s mandate for protecting  a life is more essential. Even though we are re-opening we are being very cautious.  We will not have any singing so the services will go much quicker. There will be no official Kiddush meal. We will distance ourselves twice as much as protocol recommends, with temperature checks upon entering the building.  We are asking people to wear masks, gloves and wash their hands multiple times.”


Erica Leventhal, Executive Director, Beth El Synagogue Center,  New Rochelle pointed to a Task Force developed at the beginning of the COVID outbreak which has morphed into Back Together Task Force, comprised of professional staff, clergy, lay leadership, a medical team and representatives from various schools and camps housed at Beth El.

“We are carefully developing a plan to re-open different components of the synagogue in a safe way.  The only thing we have re-opened for is the Daily Minyan, on a very slow schedule,” Leventhal averred.  Miyans meet at 7:00 a.m. daily and sundown evenings.  Only ten people are allowed in the building, signing up in advance. A small Shabbat service was held July 11.


Temple Israel Center White Plains re-opened for Evening Minyan on Sunday, June 14 in Reception Hall 2 (info@templeisraelcenter.org) with proviso that only 10 participants will be allowed and no one under age 13.  Participants must register in advance and wear a mask.


After completing online health questions, individuals will sign up for a particular evening; 3 spots each night will be reserved for mourners; 3 for people observing yahrzeit and 3 for members of the TIC community at large.