As you all know – the challenges that we have faced have been many in deciding how to handle the information thrown at us on a daily basis when it comes to COVID. This will change with each new strain, and we know that there will be new strains to come.

In early November, our Temple Sinai Board made a decision to finally open our doors to in-person services. At that time, the COVID positivity rate in Washoe County was around 11%. We recognized that this was the “new norm” and that by keeping our live streaming in place, each person had the option to join us in person or to continue to watch from home. I want to remind everyone that this hasn’t changed – live streaming has and will continue!

In the past few days, there have been many news articles and announcements made locally about the new omicron strain hitting the area. The lowest point our positivity rate hit during this last downturn was 6.1% just prior to the holiday season. I keep a close eye on these numbers because my day job requires me to look at these numbers for the State of Nevada and receive reports from hospitals on a daily basis. In the past few days, our rate has risen to 9.6%, 9.0%, and today 10%. As mentioned above, this fall when we were at 11%, we decided this would be the “new normal.” Please remember that we continue to mask in the building and there is no eating inside until numbers are really low.

So now back to making more decisions! From week to week we will look at the increase in positivity rate for Washoe County and base being in-person for services or not by the Wednesday of each week when Mike sends out the weekly Shabbat reminder. Please keep an eye out for that each week. As for this upcoming Shabbat – we will proceed with in-person for Shabbat services but will be canceling Tot Shabbat due to the recent closure at Alef Academy preschool.

Please, if you do not feel comfortable going out into the public at this time with this new strain, feel free to stay home and watch our streaming. We will all say “hi” to you online.

As for our upcoming Tu B’Shevat Seder, our Jewish Practice chair (Laura Smith) and I have decided to move our Tu B’Shevat Seder online, as doing this event in person would include food indoors. What seemed like a good idea in early December is no longer safe, so we will adjust. Rabbi Sara will be hosting an online Tu B’Shevat Seder from home again this year, so please make sure to register. We appreciate Rabbi Sara and the JPC Committee for adjusting on a dime when needed to accommodate new realities.

I am sure there are those who will both agree and disagree with decisions that we have made, but ultimately we want to make sure that everyone has a choice to decide what is in their best interest. Please remember – there is a lot of thought and conversation to be had in how Temple Sinai meets the needs of everyone.

I hope that all of you are having a good week and are safe and healthy. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.