The Values Team studied several sources of Jewish values, midot, to arrive at a set of principles that it feels will most appropriately guide the re-opening of our synagogue building.
We stand humble in the face of this illness and the enormity of the challenges before us. This situation is complex and evolving, and we recognize the limitations on our ability to make perfect decisions and to account for all possibilities. The stakes are high. That said, we want to be together. The synagogue is a Beit Knesset – a House of Gathering. Our lives are enhanced when we share time and space together (Simcha, Minyan). When we can find ways to be together safely, we should. This is especially true for life cycle events and for opportunities to learn. We fulfill our Mission and Vision best when we come together.
פקוח נפש/שמירת הגוף (Pikuach Nefesh/Shmirat HaGoof) Saving a Life/Taking Care of Your Body: The paramount Jewish value is to act in ways that protect life. This should inform all decision making. Our synagogue building should only reopen if it can reopen safely.
אוהב זה את זה/ מכבד זה את זה (Ohev Zeh et Zeh/Mechabayd Zeh et Zeh) Loving and Honoring Others: We care about each other, and we are responsible for one another. We will respect the differing needs of our members, including acknowledging the different risk and comfort levels of the diverse groups within the community. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and we may make different choices for different groups.
הכנסת אורחים (Hachnasat Orchim) Hospitality: We need to create a welcoming space for the community in the midst of the controls that will certainly need to be implemented. We will continue to be inclusive of those who may not yet feel comfortable returning to the building.
לא תעשק שכיר (Lo Ta’aShok Sachir) Treating workers fairly: We must be aware of the workload being placed on the synagogue staff, and avoid straining their physical and mental health. No one – including staff – should be forced to do anything they feel is unsafe.
תיקון עולם (Tikkun Olam) Repairing the World: Covid-19 is a public health issue. By slowing its spread, we protect the larger community and do our part to keep the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.
As Reform Jews, we believe in informed individual decision making. People have the right to make choices for themselves, but they do not have the right to put others at risk. The synagogue has the right – indeed the obligation – to insist that those who enter our premises behave in ways that promote public health (תוכחה Tochechah).
Our rules should be communicated clearly. Those who refuse to abide by them cannot remain in our building.
We understand that the decisions our community makes have significant implications for our physical, communal, and financial health. We believe that when they are made in conjunction with the time-tested values of our people, they will be made soundly.
As a Movement and as a community, we embrace science. We defer to the wisdom and experience of medical and public health professionals, and will at a minimum follow federal, state and local guidelines when developing a strategy for returning to our building.
That said, we ask the Executive Committee to keep these Jewish values in mind as it considers whether, when, and how to re-open our building.
VALUES TEAM MEMBERS:
Dina Bedak Hebrew & Jewish Studies Teacher (ret.), San Francisco BJE Education Dept. Staff (ret.)
Wendy Detata Senior Director, Strategic Consulting at Casey Family Programs
Chuck Gealer Past President Temple Emanuel Board, Technology Development Manager at Intel (ret.)
Courtney Griggs TEOT Preschool & Religious School Parent, Strategic Communications at Vitalant
Jennifer LeGrand President Tempe Emanuel Board, Special Needs Ed. Advocate, Owner J.L. Advocacy
Vicki Miles TEOT Religious School Teacher, Office Volunteer, Public School Teacher (ret.), Religious School Director (ret.)
Dean Shapiro Senior Rabbi Temple Emanuel
Thea Weiss TEOT Religious School and Adult Ed Teacher, TETY Advisor, Former TEOT Board Member/VP, Staffing Manager and Recruiter at GE (ret.),