Dear Beit Ahavah community,
We hope this letter finds you well and healthy. The Omicron surge this winter has been yet another challenge to our community, and we are grateful for the continued support and resilience of all our families and community members. We are hopeful that all our lives will move forward with health and renewal, like our High Holydays theme of "Embrace Radical Renewal."
This letter is to share a few updates and reflections as we continue to navigate the pandemic guided by Jewish values of caring (chesed), health (refuah) and connectedness (kehillah). We are guided by Jewish principles including “To save a life is to save the world," and "All of Israel is responsible for one another."
In late December, due to the Omicron surge and inclement weather days, the Board made the decision to move Shabbat services and Tot Shabbat to virtual access. RUACH community school classes began to meet indoors in January due to the cold, and the Tu BiShvat holiday was (bravely) held outdoors. In all these modalities and creative precautions, all our services and events have been robust for youth programs, adult education, Shabbat services, holidays, meetings and other gatherings.
As of this Shabbat, we are returning to in-person and multi-access (hybrid) Shabbat services. Details about that are below. Please continue to check the Beit Ahavah calendar and website for ongoing updates, links to Zoom, registration and RSVPs.
Despite the limitations of being physically present (we miss seeing the nuances of all our expressions in 3-D and sharing challah!), we are reminded of the silver linings: that Zoom is still a miraculous wonderful tool — for including people, encouraging spiritual experimentation with technology, and a way to connect our Judaism, Jewish community and homes in a warm and safe way. Likewise, the outdoors and other spaces can be safely, creatively embraced in new ways. On the one hand many of us individually and collectively experience a strange exhaustion after almost 2 years of life in a pandemic. And on the other hand, we find new hope and strength in many triumphs, wonders and new beginnings.
In addition to the fluctuating changes and needs of operating in the pandemic, we at Beit Ahavah are also in a very exciting time of reimagining our spiritual home at Florence Congregational Church as it becomes under the stewardship of Bombyx Center for Arts and Equity which is leading numerous changes and upgrades to the building and its usage. We hope you will tune in to participate our Community Forum on February 27 for updates about our Sacred Space and the new relationships we are forging here.
Thank you for everyone’s support in our different modalities.
Here are updates and reminders below:
Masks & Vaccinations:
For in-person events, Beit Ahavah will continue to require vaccinations and boosters (when eligible) for all people ages 5+. While we are not typically able to check vaccination cards at smaller events, we still require vaccinations. You may submit your vaccination card information here.
Beit Ahavah will continue to follow a masks-only policy for all services, events, programming, meetings and volunteer opportunities. We will evaluate outdoor mask requirements when spring arrives.
Events will continue to be set up to allow for social distancing.
Our youth programs will continue to require masks and vaccinations for ages 5+. Masks are required on toddlers ages 2+.
We ask everyone to stay home if symptomatic of COVID-19. Please let us know how you are doing - our Chesed committee and Rabbi are here to support you.
Multi-access (Hybrid), in-person and virtual (Zoom):
This week we will resume hosting in-person and multi-access Shabbat services from the Sanctuary. Multi-access (hybrid) means that livestream through Zoom will be set up simultaneously along with in-person services in the Sanctuary. However, the Rabbi is not monitoring her laptop from the bima during Shabbat services at this time, so it may feel like a different experience.
We would like to hire a Teen Tech Madrich who will help with service technology and/or a congregant Volunteer to monitor the Zoom and livestream as Host to interact with and help Zoom-attendees. Please let us know if you are interested.
We will also now need Volunteers to be Ushers and Greeters again, and to help break down the sanctuary after services (and sometimes with Oneg sponsorship and clean up) - the Holy Shleppers.
“Multi-access” or "Hybrid" is meant to convey something different than a typical Zoom or in-person experience. The experience of everyone being on Zoom together is different from some of the people on Zoom and some in person, or not as interactive as a small Zoom gathering. We have learned that we are “striving” for greater access, which means, in the words I borrowed from a sister congregation in Berkeley, that we aim to be as inclusive as possible, with something for everyone, but not everything for everyone all the time. We always welcome your involvement, ideas and input to make things run better.
Finally, we have so many wonderful holiday and community celebrations coming up, opportunities for engagement, learning, celebration, support and beyond! The pandemic has not limited our level of activity. Please join us and be part of it. We are creating something wonderful and it involves all of us!
If you have questions, please reach out to us, and we invite and encourage your involvement in the many events of the coming season!
Warmly and Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Riqi Kosovske and Anne Bussler, President