RE-OPENING THE SHUL – IMPORTANT UPDATE RE SHABBAT SERVICES AND ROSH HASHANAH
Our approach to returning to Synagogue services has been to take our time and keep our community’s health as paramount. This has been strongly supported by our Rabbi and Executive and Council. As we have now had a few weeks of running morning services in Synagogue, mostly outside, we wanted to update you as to the plans for inside Shabbat services restarting and for Rosh Hashanah services. We are really pleased that the morning services have been running smoothly and we now feel confident that we can run Shabbat services in an equally safe and smooth way. It would be wonderful to see you all back, however different the environment may be, and enjoy a wonderful Muswell Hill Shabbat morning – the Rabbi’s sermons may even need to be shorter!
When will Shabbat services happen?
Shabbat services will start on Aug 8th. There will then be a break on Aug 15th and 22nd due to the wardens and Rabbi being away. They will restart on Aug 29th when we will also be celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of Jacob Goldman.
Can anyone come
Services are open to all members and guests who book using the United Synagogue booking system. Please do bear in mind though that, in the event of bookings exceeding the number of seats available, priority will be given to MHS members and particularly those saying Kaddish or who have a Yahrzeit in the week following.
In accordance with US guidelines the following groups of people should not attend services:
a) Those who are shielded (extremely medically vulnerable), according to the Government’s Definition.
b) Those who show any symptoms of COVID-19 or who live with people with symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in contact with a confirmed case – all in the last fourteen days
c) Those who have been asked to self-isolate by the Government’s Track and Trace Programme.
d) Those who are in quarantine having travelled recently
Older members (and certainly those over 70) are encouraged to use their judgment to decide whether or not to attend services. In particular, consideration should be given to the heightened potential risk to the health of those falling into this category should they catch coronavirus.
Members who are clinically vulnerable are strongly encouraged to take medical advice as to whether to attend.
No person will be pressurised to attend a service in order to make up a minyan
Do I need to book?
Yes you do. In line with Government guidelines, the names of those attending need to be recorded in the event that we are required to activate Track and Trace. If an attendee experiences symptoms and tests positive, we will let all attendees at that service know. Only those in close proximity for at least 15 minutes may need to isolate on being contacted by Track and Trace.
We have a limited capacity of 68 people on a standard Shabbat and a reduced number where a family is celebrating a Simcha to allow them spaces for their family and friends.
Please book here for Shabbat, 8 August: https://myus.theus.org.uk/events/62367/shabbat-morning-8-august/#eventTicketSelectionForm
Booking deadline will be Friday August 7th at 12pm.
A booking link will be sent out shortly for future services.
Please call Jo, in the Shul Office (020 8883 5925) if you have any problem making your booking and she will talk you through the process.
Where will I sit?
Please note you will not be sitting in your usual seat. Many of the seats will not be used to allow for social distancing of 2m. Those in use will be clearly marked and ushers will help you find a place to sit. For safety reasons, we have decided to only use the downstairs of the Shul and to create more capacity for this we have removed the divider between the Shul and the Rose and Harry Epstein Hall. This is due to concerns about the narrowness of the stairs leading to the Ladies Gallery and the lack of ventilation in the Gallery. We have divided the Shul and Hall with a mechitzah with men on one side of the space and women on the other.
What will the system be when I arrive?
Our wardens, Rabbi and Jo have put a lot of thought into the system to ensure we are all safe. You will see markers as soon as you enter telling you which way to go and to remain at a 2m distance. Men will be directed to the side gate entrance and women to the Main front entrance. You will need to sanitise your hands as you come in and wear a mask while in Synagogue.
Can I sit next to close family members?
If you are coming with a family member that you live with or with whom you are in a “bubble” we will arrange the seating so that you can sit with them. There will be an option to provide relevant details when you book.
Will the service be the same as it was?
In order to reduce risk as much as possible, we are shortening the Shabbat service. It will start at 10am and we will aim to finish by 11.30am. The first part of Shacharit, including Morning Blessings and what is known as Pesukei DeZimra can be said at home by those who wish to, and service would start at ‘Shocheyn Ad’, on p366 of the green siddur. All attending will be required to wear a mask. We have installed Perspex on the Bimah, so that anyone leading Prayers or reading the Torah will not need to wear a mask whilst doing so.
What about children?
The US guidelines do allow for children to come to Shul once systems are running safely, as long as they sit with their parents at all times. To allow us to bed our systems in, we will be able to welcome children from August 29th. They will also need to be booked in to attend and those over 11 will also be required to wear a mask.
We will have a team of ushers in place, welcoming members and helping them with the new systems. If you would like to join this team please do contact Jo in the office.
What are the plans for Rosh Hashanah?
We are working on the assumption that by Rosh Hashanah we will still need to have a limited capacity in Shul. We would still like to ensure that as many people as possible can attend services and that there will also be pre-Yom Tov offerings on Zoom. We are planning a series of shorter services to which all members can book in. You will be able to book into any one of the slots listed below. The times are not yet finalised.
Each member will be able to book one slot on a first come, first served basis, should there then still be room in some services we will reopen for members to book a second slot of their choice.
The seats, toilets and any door handles or other touchpoints will be fully cleaned between services.
Rosh Hashanah Day 1:
Slot 1 – Evening Service
Slot 2 – A full service including Shacharit, Layening, a short Sermon and Mussaf:
Slot 3 – A Stand alone Musaf service beginning with a short sermon
Slot 4 – Afternoon Service
Rosh Hashanah Day 2:
Slot 5 – Evening Service
Slot 6 – A full service as of Day 1, with the addition of 30 Shofar blows
Slot 7 – A stand alone Musaf as on Day 1, with the addition of 30 Shofar blows
Slot 8 – Afternoon service with 30 Shofar blows and followed by Evening service for the end of Yom Tov.
How will I hear the Shofar?
On the afternoon of Day 2, as well as the Shofar being blown in Synagogue on Day 2, we will be offering shofar blowings in outdoor locations in the community by a group of volunteers. We ask you to book a slot in a specific place and time.
What about young people and children?
Plans are still being developed for young people over the Chagim so more information will follow. This will depend on how many volunteers we have to help with this so please let us know if you can help with children’s services.
Will services and events still continue on Zoom?
The engagement with our Kabbalat Shabbat and other services and events over the past few months on Zoom has been one of the most positive developments of this challenging time. We have learnt a lot from this, and it is absolutely our plan for wherever possible to offer morning services and other non Shabbat or Yom Tov services online. We will also continue to have all events online even when we come to a point in the future when we can live without the threat of Covid. It is so important that we can include as many members as possible in our events and we are working on ensuring the technical capacity in Synagogue to do this.
The planning for return to shul has been a huge amount of work for our Warden team, Rabbi and Jo so thanks must go to all of them for the time they have spent on risk assessments and plans for these services.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Thank you all
Chair of Muswell Hill Synagogue
A brief tour of how things will look this Shabbat on our return to Shabbat services.