FJC’s Leadership Responds to Governor Baker’s Phased Plan for Reopening

May 21, 2020

On May 18, 2020, Governor Baker released the Baker-Polito Administration’s comprehensive plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. This plan included guidelines for Places of Worship. Those guidelines spell out requirements for social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing & operations, cleaning and disinfecting as well as mandatory safety standards.

Our congregation’s leadership applauds the efforts by Governor Baker and his administration to safely guide the Commonwealth toward increasing levels of activity and commerce. We read the guidelines for Places of Worship carefully, applying our knowledge of our congregational community, considering our ability to implement those guidelines and, most importantly, the wisdom of Jewish tradition.

Judaism’s deep and abiding concerns for our well-being are reflected in two Hebrew phrases: Pikuach nefesh (“saving a life”) and Sh’mirat ha-nefesh  (“Protecting a life”). Our commitment to those values has been paramount in our explorations of when, and how, we might begin to restore to our life as a community those core experiences that define us: in-person study, worship, celebration, committee work and social engagement.

While many of us eagerly await a return to “normalcy” and to the rhythms of life at FJC that we enjoyed heretofore, we have concluded that it would be imprudent for us to resume in-person activities at this time. Our concerns for pikuach nefesh and sh’mirat ha-nefesh are of paramount importance to us and we do not feel that the potential benefits exceed the potential risks of enabling physical gathering at this time.

We are very mindful of the demographics of our congregational family which skews “older” and is, therefore, especially vulnerable to the ravages of COVID-19. We are mindful, also, of our responsibility to our staff and to the many people who move through our doors under normal conditions.

We are committed to monitoring this evolving situation and commit ourselves to keeping the congregation fully informed about our intentions moving forward into the near future. 

We are grateful for your ongoing support and stand ready to respond to your concerns or questions.

B’vracha…..invoking the blessing of health and safety for us all,

Sam Slarskey                       Elias Lieberman                  Pamela Rothstein

President                              Rabbi                                     Director of Lifelong Learning