As a young man I joined the Boy Scouts, and of all the things I learned as a scout there were two lessons that have always remained with me: 1) be prepared and 2) always leave a place better than you found it. As we continue to journey through this challenging time that first lesson has been at the forefront of my mind.
Last January we began our budget process, and though at that time we didn’t know what September 2021 would look like, we decided then we needed to be prepared for in person High Holiday services, so we budgeted appropriately. In May the CDC made a huge announcement that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks indoors. This bode well for the possibility of having our High Holiday services in person and our Worship Committee and staff began to prepare for this possibility.
Then in July, due to rising number of COVID-19 cases, the CDC recommended that vaccinated people once again wear masks indoors in places where there was high spread of COVID-19. Polk County, Iowa is one of the places where there is still high spread of the virus, and here at the Temple we followed the CDC’s recommendation and once again require masks for all indoor programs and services at the Temple.
We have had to make some changes to the plans we began to make in May and June, but because we have been preparing throughout this entire time these changes have not been difficult to adapt to. Elsewhere in this bulletin you can see our most current plans for the High Holidays, but I wanted to highlight some of the preparations our staff and I have been working on.
If choose to join us for services in the sanctuary, we are using MERV15 air filters and will have additional air purifiers in the sanctuary that, along with the other safety measures we are taking, will create an environment that will be comfortable and safer for all. The same safety measures will be taken in the social hall, and depending on the weather, we may even be able to open the windows in the social hall offering better air circulation for those who choose to join us in that space. If you choose to join us outside air circulation won’t be an issue, but we made sure to have plenty of chairs and a powerful projector to stream the services under the tent we purchased.
In addition to the safety measures we taking to protect your health, we have also made sure to have off duty police officers on site throughout the High Holidays, and our facility is under 24/7 video surveillance. While we have offered babysitting in the past for the High Holidays, we decided it would be more prudent to forego this option for this year.
Things may still change before we get to the High Holidays in September, but again being prepared makes us ready to adapt if need be. If changes are made, we have made preparations to communicate that to you as quickly as possible. No matters what happens for the high holidays this year it is my sincere hope is that we will create an experience that touches your heart and inspires us all.