An Update on TOS’s Approach to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Many weeks ago we began to share our plans for the potential reopening of our building. With the support of our TOS Board of Trustees and our COVID-19 Reopening Committee, now renamed the Health and Safety Committee, we are taking a thoughtful, deliberate, and multi-tiered scientifically based approach to resuming in-person gatherings, including those in our offices, schools, event spaces, Chapel, and Sanctuary. We have spent many hours in discussion about community protocols and procedures. We appreciate that our community comprises individuals with varying levels of comfort and risk regarding COVID-19. We recognize that we need to continuously monitor and adjust our plans according to government guidelines and expert advice. It is our goal that our current plans take into consideration all our demographics and their individual and collective needs.

Although much of our programming is currently remote, Temple Ohabei Shalom is still very much up and running and open (just not physically for the most part). Our clergy are working remotely and are eager to connect. Our innovative non-clergy team is diligently working both remotely and in the building, taking care of all of the synagogue functions in this new environment and searching for creative ways to stay connected, worship, gather virtually, and take care of one another. Rest assured, our clergy and staff will continue to be available by phone, video call, and email.

We understand that Houses of Worship remain one of the highest sources of risk for virus transmission and as such have decided that all of our worship services will continue to be virtual. B’nei Mitzvah families (and limited guests) will continue to have the opportunity to be in the Sanctuary for Shabbat morning services while the community can join in on Zoom. Our adult education committee has put together a robust calendar of offerings for this fall and we have just begin planning for Hanukkah. We are thrilled to report that, based on the guidelines from the Brookline Health Department and the MA Department for Early Education and Care, all of our programs for children (Trust Center for Early Education, Ansin Religious School and HomeBASE afterschool program) are fully up and running. (This year ARS is running two parallel tracks, one fully remote and one in-person, in order to provide flexibility to our families.) A huge thanks goes to our hardworking teachers and staff who are adjusting to the “new normal’ by strictly following these guidelines.

We have made many short-term adaptations to our spaces to allow for appropriate physical distancing and signage has been placed throughout the buildings to remind staff, members, and visitors to wear masks, remain distanced, and maintain proper hygiene by washing hands and using hand sanitizer, which is readily available throughout TOS. We have also reassessed the occupancy of each of our spaces, including restrooms and elevators. The Facilities team has put new cleaning and sanitizing procedures in place to ensure the health and safety of all and we have placed sanitizing stations throughout the building. Upon entering the building, every single person is required to complete a health screening and sanitize their hands. We are working with our tenants so that they can continue to operate from our building, while following all proper health and safety protocols (also providing necessary income for our bottom line).

These are certainly extraordinary times calling for extraordinary measures. Of course we will be continually monitoring conditions around COVID-19 and public health guidelines for our neighborhood and we will continue to provide updates as needed. We know that this pandemic has affected all of us. As a synagogue, we remain true to our core value of being a kehillah kedoshah– a sacred community. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.