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Rabbi Singer zt"l

 



ROSH HASHANA/YOM KIPPUR
Dear Friends,


Over the past three months, we have been fortunate to be able to reopen our Shul for davening. Of course, it is not quite the same as it was pre-Covid. We are wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Kiddushim and Shalosh Seudos are suspended. Most importantly, we dearly miss those who still need to remain at home. But we are grateful that the sweet sound of Tefilla is heard multiple times each day in the Bialystoker, in an environment designed to guard the safety of those who attend.


The upcoming High Holidays pose new, but not insurmountable, challenges: How can we create a safe davening environment for these precious days? What follows are the steps we are taking to enable us to observe the High Holidays in Shul in these unprecedented times:


BASIC GUIDELINES: As we have successfully done until now, please wear a mask in Shul in a manner that it covers BOTH your nose and your mouth. If you are feeling ill or suspect that you may have Covid, it is a mitzvah to refrain from coming to Shul.


SOCIAL DISTANCING: As we have done until now, social distancing will be observed during davening. Please use ONLY the benches which are not roped off and please sit distanced at least six feet from non-family members. Based on a poll we sent out a few weeks ago, we anticipate that we do not need to specifically assign seats in order to maintain social distancing, but please use common sense in sitting in a way which maintains everyone’s safety.


Because of the unique Covid precautions, we are unable to reserve any specific seats for any of our attendees, even if you have sat in a particular seat for many years. Please respect our attempts to make the Shul as safe as possible, even if it means sitting in a different seat this year.


CLEANING: The main Shul and the restrooms will be thoroughly deep-cleaned and sanitized prior to Yom Tov. As always, hand sanitizer will continue to be placed in the lobby of the main Shul.


SELICHOS AND HATARAS NEDARIM: The inaugural Selichos and Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh HaShana will be accessible via Zoom for those who wish to participate that way. Those following via Zoom in their homes may recite the Selichos in their entirety.


SHORTER SERVICES: In recognition of the medical value of minimizing time spent together as well as the difficulty in wearing masks for long periods of time, we hope to finish davening both days of Rosh HaShana at approximately 12 noon. While we do not plan on eliminating any of the actual davening, we plan on singing somewhat less and eliminating the Drasha and lengthy Mi SheBeirach prayers.


OUTDOOR SEATING: As in previous years, we will be having a sunrise (“Netz”) minyan on Rosh HaShana (6:00 AM) and Yom Kippur (6:10 AM). In order to facilitate ventilation, the doors to the Sukka will be open. There will be a small number of men’s seats available in the Sukka for those who would like to daven outside while being part of the Netz minyan (barring inclement weather). If this is of interest, please let me know ASAP at zdromm@gmail.com


SHOFAR BLOWING: We are fortunate that we have a large sanctuary, where the Bima is distanced from the closest seats by at least 10 feet. As such, blowing shofar poses little risk in terms of contagion. As an added precaution, we request that people not congregate around the Bima while the Shofar is blown.


SPECIAL OUTDOOR SHOFAR BLOWING: There will be a special blowing of the Shofar (30 blasts) on Sunday, September 20th (the second day of Rosh HaShana) at 4:30 PM. The Shofar will be sounded from the top of the staircase leading up to the main Shul. We hope that this will enable people who hear the Shofar who may not feel comfortable entering the Shul itself.


In these difficult times, the Shul has been a source of support for our community. Let us make sure to support it:


PURCHASING HIGH HOLIDAY SEATS: As in previous years, high holidays seats cost $100 per seat. We encourage you to purchase seats even if you will not be davening in Shul on the High Holidays, as the revenue is a major source of support for the Shul. Checks can be mailed or brought into the office or you can purchase seats on line at https://secure.banquest.com/bialystoker/bialystoker


YOM KIPPUR YIZKOR: In light of the pandemic, we will not be holding an open Yizkor appeal in Shul this year. (We will be saying Yizkor.) The Yizkor appeal is a very important source of revenue for the Shul, and we ask that you contribute to it generously. We will be creating a Yizkor booklet with names of contributors and the names of loved one they wish to commemorate. Please send names to bialystokersynagogue@gmail.com by Rosh HaShana in order to be included. Once again, checks can be mailed or brought into the office or you can remit Yizkor pledges on line at https://secure.banquest.com/bialystoker/bialystoker


SUKKOS AND SIMCHAS TORAH: The pandemic will likely impact on these holidays as well. While it is not a Bialystoker issue per se, please be aware that efforts are being undertaken to ensure that the local community Sukkos will be able to seat people in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Please be aware, as well, that the nature of our Simchas Torah celebrations will likely be modified this year. As the situation is constantly changing, we will be better poised to address any changes as we get closer to these holidays.


Our timeless Torah is capable of accommodating any situation, even the unusual times in which we live. May our steadfast devotion to Torah be a source of merit such that the current pandemic is rapidly relegated to a distant memory.


Kesiva VaChasima Tova,


Rabbi Zvi Romm