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High Holidays 5783 - Covid Considerations


Planning this year’s High Holiday services has been very complex, as we try to balance various needs, desires, and values at this stage of the pandemic.

Like other synagogues and other religious institutions, the Narayever’s response to the pandemic has changed through time. In the early stages, we were required by public health authorities to shut down our in-person gatherings. We shifted almost everything we did to on-line, but did not offer Shabbat services on-line for halakhic reasons. Eventually, the public health prohibition on gatherings was lifted and we returned to meeting in-person for Shabbat services but with many protocols in place -- including physical distancing, mandatory masking, plexiglass around the leaders, registration, abbreviated services, and a prohibition on singing. High Holidays 2020 and 2021 were live-streamed because we simply could not gather in High Holiday numbers at that time. When vaccines were developed, the shul imposed a vaccine mandate on people attending in-person events.

Over time, in response to changing conditions we modified our public health protocols. We raised our capacity limits, took away the plexiglass, restored a full Torah reading, and invited people to sing again. Recently, following the science about transmission of the current variants, we lifted our vaccine mandate. We have kept our mask mandate for those attending in-person, because masking remains one of the most effective ways of curbing transmission of the virus.

High Holidays 2022
In spring of 2022 we faced some key decisions about the upcoming High Holidays, at the current stage of the pandemic when the virus is still circulating, but many people have resumed normal activities while others haven’t, and there are no public health mandates in place any more. Ultimately, we decided that we would offer full in-person services for High Holidays 2022. We will not be providing a video live-stream for the holidays, for reasons which Rabbi Elkin explains in the spring Narayever newsletter. Our mask mandate will be in effect for all High Holiday services and programs. Proof of vaccination will not be required.

To address the needs of those who are still limiting their public activities, the shul is offering two opportunities for participation:
For those who would like to join us in-person for the High Holidays, but prefer a setting with physical distancing, fewer people present and shortened service times, there will be a one-hour, "highlights" service that will take place starting at 8:30 am at the MNjcc each of the days of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur, and will be led by Rabbi Ed. The maximum number of people who can attend these services is 25. However, if there is more demand for this service, we will make every effort to accommodate by moving to a larger room.

For those who are not comfortable attending in-person services we will be making available a link to an audio feed of our High Holiday services in the MNjcc gym. This link will enable people to follow the services as they take place at the MNjcc on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. An audio transmission is doable in a way that does not involve the intrusive presence of cameras in the service, and as such we feel that this option strikes a balance that will enable us to maintain the traditional atmosphere of Narayever services while still providing access to those who are not attending in-person. Machzorim will be provided to those who register for the audio link.

Members can register for the Physical Distancing service or the audio link through the High Holiday registration form and can order a Harlow machzor for use at home with the audio link by clicking HERE.

If you have any concerns about our 2022 High Holiday offerings, please contact the rabbi at, or 416.487.4200.


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Wed, February 1 2023 10 Shevat 5783