As society adapts to life with Covid-19, our synagogues must also determine how to provide essential Jewish rituals in ways that address our shared commitment to health and safety. In doing so, we are heeding the advice of governmental authorities and health experts – and recognize that this advice (and our response to it) may continue to change and evolve rapidly. While there is no perfect way to respond to this pandemic, we believe that these guidelines provide the safest and smartest options at the current time.

Beginning August 1, synagogues affiliated with the Michigan Board of Rabbis will offer private, in-person Simchas (weddings, baby namings, b’nei mitzvah) under the following guidelines:

  • Outdoor ceremonies are preferable, but may be held inside a well-ventilated sanctuary with additional precautions, as listed below.
  • Participants and guests (aside from clergy and essential synagogue workers) are limited to 25 people (from no more than 10 households), or the State of Michigan’s recommended limit, whichever is less.
  • The worship space will be set up to ensure proper social-distancing, including:
    • Maximize the distance between the bima and the closest guest.
    • Maintain 15 feet of distance between clergy and ceremony participants.
    • All guests must wear masks, and sit in areas with at least 12 feet between individuals or family groups who live in the same household (including relatives).
    • Sanitation stations will be readily available, restrooms monitored/sanitized, and ingress/egress controlled for appropriate social distancing.
    • Suggested: Plexiglass divider between cantor and congregation
  • Ceremonies will include new precautions, such as:
    • Elimination of hagbah, g’lilah, unless they can be done without breaking social distancing requirements.
    • Elimination of aliyot, other than those given to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or his/her household members (unless they are recited from the pews).
    • Elimination of hakafot and other potential “touch points” – including programs, or loaner siddurim, kippot, or tallitot.
  • Some congregations may wish to adopt certain testing protocols:
    • All unmasked participants/clergy tested within 48 hours of a service.
    • Testing for all guests (to be surveyed/admitted at the door).
    • Pre-arrival surveys regarding health and potential exposure.
    • Collecting participant/guest information (for contact tracing, if necessary).