An Update from WHC’s Reopening Task Force

Shortly after the pandemic began, Temple leadership established a Reopening Task Force comprised of clergy, senior staff, Board members, and medical professionals. Our goal – to determine how and forecast when we could safely reopen our buildings for in-person activity in ways that are consistent with WHC’s mission and values.

Guided by science, real-time public health conditions in our community, and restrictions established by our local jurisdictions, we have met bi-weekly since the spring. Through conversations, surveys, and feedback, we have learned a lot about our community, including its diversity of ages, backgrounds, health conditions, personal circumstances, desires, and opinions. All of this is considered each time we are asked to make a recommendation regarding in-person services, life cycle events, the High Holy Days, Religious School, Early Childhood Centers, and everyday events such as adult education, programs, and meetings.

Our recommendations have been made, first and foremost, with the health and safety of our community in mind and secondarily, in ways that meet individual congregants’ needs and specific family circumstances. As an example, this month – with appropriate PPE and precautions – we will open the ECC at the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center for one mixed-age class of 11 students. Research shows how crucial in-person education is for young children, and JBSC’s floor plan enables us to establish a physical “pod” and provides outdoor access for the classroom. At the same time, we did not reopen Religious School or resume in-person classes for adults. We are holding b’nei mitzvah services for immediate family in heated, open tents at JBSC but won’t hold Shabbat services in the same way.

When we do reopen, following wide access to the vaccine, both buildings will have upgraded air handling systems, which will improve the overall air quality, mitigating many health risks – not just coronavirus – for each of us as we re-enter facilities.

As 2021 promises to be the final stretch of our largely virtual world, the Task Force will continue to share our thoughts and progress toward reopening our buildings. Meanwhile, we welcome your ideas and suggestions and look forward to greeting you in person later in 2021!