An Important Update on our Vaccination and COVID Policies! (Congregation Beth El, South Orange, NJ)

Dear Friends,

In Deuteronomy 30:19 we find a reminder from God to choose life. Torah commands us to go out of our way to protect the health and well-being of ourselves, and of each other, because we are all responsible for one another. With this in mind, we want to update you on the latest COVID-19 related policies approved by Congregation Beth El’s Board of Trustees. 

According to our recent congregational survey, 75% of all members (including those who are younger than 12 years old) had been fully or partially vaccinated by June 30. If we only consider those who are eligible for the vaccine, the percentage increases to well over 90%. The CDC has made it clear that the most effective strategy against COVID-19 infection is vaccination. This is how we fulfill the mitzvah to ‘choose life’ and protect the health and well-being of ourselves and others. 

Proof of Vaccination Effective immediately, anyone (member, guest, staff, or vendor) over the age of 12 must show proof of vaccination to attend in-person Beth El events and prayer services, or enter the building for any reason. We have created the ‘Beth El Go’ system that will enable our staff, security professionals and volunteers to smoothly facilitate entry into the building. Please fill out the Beth El Go form and upload a picture of both the front and back of your vaccination card. This form must be filled out for each member of your household who is fully vaccinated. If you are having trouble uploading your vaccination card, please contact our Beth El office for assistance or to schedule a time to bring your vaccination card to the office for our staff to upload it directly. Exceptions to this rule may be made by the professional team on a case-by-case basis for individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Please email Rabbi Olitzky with questions.

Once we have received confirmation of your vaccination status, you will be mailed a Beth El Go entry card to show to a Beth El greeter or security professional upon entry to the building. This business card-sized entry card can stay with you so you won’t have to carry your vaccination card. Just in case you forget your Beth El Go card or there is a delay in receiving it via mail, a Beth El security professional or greeter will have a full list of Beth El members who are vaccinated. However, bringing your Beth El Go card with you will facilitate quick entry into our building and help to avoid bottlenecking at the door. 

If you would prefer, you can also bring your vaccination card with you. While we discourage carrying phones into the sanctuary on Shabbat, you can also show proof of vaccination electronically using the Docket app through the NJ Department of Health for weekday services and programs. Both of these options may slow down your entry into the building. The fastest way to enter our building is by uploading proof of vaccination and then using your Beth El Go card.  

In order to receive High Holiday tickets, you must upload proof of vaccination. Don’t forget to register for the High Holidays and let us know which in-person services you intend to join by August 13. Registration this year is required, and unfortunately only open to members, due to limited capacity and social distancing.  
B’nai Mitzvah and Other S’machot Friends, out-of-town family, and guests attending a b’nai mitzvah or simcha are welcome to either bring their vaccination card with them to show upon entry or upload proof of vaccination using this specific form meant for guests visiting us. A Beth El greeter or security professional will be checking as guests enter to confirm vaccination status.  

Masking Due to the delta variant, the CDC is recommending that people remain masked indoors in areas with high COVID-19 infection rates, regardless of vaccination status. Congregation Beth El’s Board of Trustees reaffirmed our existing policy that anyone who enters our building must be masked at all times. The one exception is that service and program leaders may remove their masks when leading or speaking to the congregation from the bimah, with only one person permitted to have their mask removed at a time. Every adult and child over the age of two is required to be masked while indoors. For outdoor services and programs, those who are fully vaccinated may remove their masks; unvaccinated children over two years old should remain masked while outdoors. 
We are committed to staying connected as a community. We appreciate everyone doing their part to keep our community safe and healthy so that we can continue to gather together.

Wishing everyone blessings for a healthy 5782,
Rabbi Jesse Olitzky
Rabbi Rachel Marder
Sheryl Parker, President