Important update to COVID-19 policies for in-person programming at BJ

Dear BJ Community,

Last night, the Covid Re-Entry Task Force met to review our current policies in the context of the ever-evolving pandemic. The Task Force is continually wrestling with two often conflicting scenarios—the desire to bring the kahal (community) back to pray together in person safely and acknowledging the reality of the pandemic. We are all reading the news: The Delta variant is far more contagious than earlier versions of the virus. And, as was expected, infection breakthroughs are happening among those who are vaccinated. The good news: The vaccines are working. Infections among vaccinated individuals are often asymptomatic, and when there is illness, it is typically mild. Serious illness, hospitalization, and death among those who are vaccinated remains extremely rare.

But the variant is wreaking havoc among the unvaccinated. The local infection trends, even on the Upper West Side, are rising at a rapid pace (though still extremely low at the moment). And the numbers in greater Manhattan and beyond are trending in the wrong direction. 

At BJ, throughout the entire pandemic, we’ve always taken the more cautious path, believing the safety of our entire community is of the utmost importance. 

As such, we have made the decision to tighten our COVID-19 policies in regard to in-person program participation.

  • Beginning this Shabbat, July 23, 2021, all guests aged 12 and over must be fully vaccinated and present proof of vaccination. No exceptions.

  • Children 11 and under, accompanied by a vaccinated adult, may enter provided they are wearing a right-sized surgical mask. No exceptions. (We will have extras available at the doors.)

  • For the time-being, we will continue to require masking of all guests during indoor in person programming. No exceptions.

  • We are not changing our policy for outdoor programs at this time.

  • We are not yet making any new decisions with regard to in-person High Holy Days services. Please refer here for the most recent details.

We know there are some among you who feel we are being overly cautious, while others think that we are not being strict enough. The Task Force is unanimous in its opinion that this is the right policy for the moment, allowing us to still safely gather while keeping a close eye on the local conditions in the coming weeks. And we will review our policies again when the Task Force meets in mid-August.

For this Shabbat and next, July 23/24 and July 30/31, please bring paper proof of vaccination status. This can be your vaccination card, a paper print-out of your Excelsior Pass, or other documentation. In order to preserve the spirit of Shabbat in our communal BJ spaces, we kindly ask that proof be presented on paper rather than on your mobile phone. In the coming weeks, we will create a more automated system so that once you have shown proof you won't have to do so each week. As a reminder, you can register for Shabbat in person here.

Register for an upcoming service

Please contact shabbatinperson@bj.org with any questions.

L'shalom,

Colin A. Weil
Executive Director

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B’nai Jeshurun
Community House

270 West 89th Street
NYC, NY 10024-1705
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