Coronavirus preparedness and CBI

Update as of 3/13: we are taking several concrete steps to slow the spread of the virus. Read about them here: Update: CBI in this time of pandemic.

Also see: Like a fiddler on the roof, my message to the community before Shabbat on 3/13.

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Shortly before Shabbat, a member of our community asked me about plans to ensure pastoral care and community connection if the coronavirus becomes classified as a global pandemic.

The fact of the virus and its spread are anxiety-provoking. For that reason, our needs for community and connection (and/or for pastoral conversations and spiritual support) may increase. When the world becomes overwhelming, we need each other more. And we may need rabbis and spiritual directors and therapists and other sources of emotional and spiritual support more, too.

And, depending on what happens with the coronavirus, our need to connect could meet with some challenges. Across Asia and now also in some European nations, quarantines are in effect, and in some countries religious services have been suspended. What will we do at CBI if those things happen here?

I truly don’t expect those things to happen in northern Berkshire. But if they do, please know that I am prepared to provide pastoral care and spiritual support via email, text messages, phone calls, FaceTime, or Zoom videoconferencing. If we’re not able to sit down face to face, we can still find ways to converse and connect. I promise that I am still here to listen when you need to talk.

And in the highly unlikely event that religious gatherings must be suspended for a time, we can explore holding Shabbat services via Zoom and/or via Facebook Live. Again, I don’t expect this! But if there is a period of time during which we’re asked to avoid gathering in person, we’ll find other ways to connect with each other and to join our voices and our hearts together in prayer and song.

As of now I don’t expect any disruption in what we do at CBI. I anticipate that we will gather on March 9 for Purim, and on April 9 for Pesach, and on all of the Shabbatot in between! (Please RSVP for the seder; seats are limited.) Edited to add: our second night community seder is canceled and we are now meeting for Shabbat services via zoom for a while. But if the situation changes and we need to connect via virtual / digital means for a while, we will use every tool at our disposal to stay connected as a community.

Meanwhile, there are simple things we can do to help protect ourselves and each other. Wash hands often (here are instructions for how to do so properly) and use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, especially fever and/or cough, please stay home… and let us know if you want your name on our Mi Sheberach (healing) list.

I’m enclosing some links below that I hope will be helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to talk about this or about anything else.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

Some potentially helpful links:

On the spiritual front:

Only the first one of these is specifically about coronavirus, but hopefully they are nourishing in other ways.

On the practical front: