Temple Emanuel’s Response to COVID-19

Dear Congregants,

Jewish tradition teaches that every individual’s life is of infinite value, and that we can violate our most sacred ritual obligations to save that life. Transgressing even Shabbat in the interest of pikuach nefesh — the preservation of life — is required by Jewish law. This also applies in cases of doubt or when a potential situation could devolve into one that threatens life.

The values of our tradition are steadfast and our civic responsibility is becoming increasingly clear. We know from the scientific and public health communities that fastidious hand washing, social distancing, and self-quarantine in the event of possible exposure can “flatten the curve,” allowing our healthcare system time to meet the demands of this contagion. It is incumbent upon us to take actions now to support the most vulnerable in our midst, including those which are most difficult.

Effective immediately and lasting through the end of March, Temple Emanuel of South Hills is moving our vibrant, caring community to the virtual space. In doing so, we cast our lot with the growing number of congregations throughout the region and the world that would rather be judged harshly for overreaction in deference to preservation of human life than lack-of-reaction which might further jeopardize those most at-risk.

This decision will impact a number of upcoming programs and events:

Shabbat Services: 

  • Friday night Shabbat services, 7:00pm, will be live-streamed only, accessible on Temple’s website or directly through this link.
  • Saturday morning Shabbat services, 8:30am, will be live-streamed only, accessible on Temple’s website or through this link.

Copies of Mishkan Tefilah are available to borrow through the first set of double doors at Temple’s courtyard entrance.

Torah Study and Adult Education:

  • Saturday morning Torah Study, 9:00am, will be offered exclusively via Zoom video-conference, allowing the same robust participation as our in-person discussion. Video access can be found by clicking here; audio only by calling (646) 876 9923 and using Meeting ID: 368 591 669.
  • Wednesday night Adult Education, 7:00pm, will be offered exclusively via Zoom video-conference, allowing the same robust participation as our in-person discussion. Video access can be found by clicking here; audio only by calling (646) 876 9923 and using Meeting ID: 368 591 669.

Torah Center and J-Line:
Sunday morning and Wednesday evening Torah Center and J-Line classes are suspended. Please watch for emails from Rabbi Locketz, Chris Herman, and your child’s teacher for ways to learn and grow using virtual classrooms and teaching tools.

Sunday Morning Minyan:
Sunday morning minyan will be offered exclusively via Zoom video-confernece, allowing the same participation as our in-person discussion. Video access can be found by clicking here; audio only by calling (646) 876 9923 and using Meeting ID: 230 409 647.

B’nei Mitzvah Tutoring:
Weekly B’nei Mitzvah tutoring appointments will continue via Zoom or Skype at the discretion of your child’s tutor. Please watch for additional communication specific to this issue.

Mission and Vision Congregational Meetings:
The Sunday, March 15 (10:15 AM) meeting to provide feedback on Temple’s proposed Mission and Vision Statements will be offered exclusively via Zoom video-conference, allowing the same robust participation as our in-person discussion. Video access can be found by clicking here; audio only by calling (646) 876 9923 and using Meeting ID: 532 677 4310.

Upcoming Events:
Temple has a number of upcoming events planned for our community, including the Women’s Seder, Congregational 2nd Night Seder, Tribute Concert in Honor of Dr. Cohen, and much more. These events are important to us too, and we will follow up with additional information in the coming days.

Temple’s ECDC program, providing an essential service to many working parents, will remain OPEN. While we reserve the right to make decisions based on the welfare of our school community, our intention is to follow the lead of the Mt. Lebanon School District regarding school closure decisions.

Life Cycle Events:
Religious experiences where the number of people attending can be regulated, including b’nei mitzvah, weddings, and funerals, will continue to be held in close consultation with families.

Pastoral Care:
Temple’s rabbis continue to be available to you as personal, spiritual, and medical needs arise. Please reach out by telephone, text, or email to let us know how we might assist you.

Direct Assistance:
Temple Board Member Mary Cothran, PhD, recommends having an extra 2-3 weeks of essential medications on hand. Start by asking your insurance company for an early refill, but if you are asked to pay out-of-pocket, Mary has initiated a program for Temple to help. Please contact Rabbi Aaron Meyer at ameyer@templeemanuelpgh.org for confidential assistance or to contribute the funds to help others. JFunds is also an incredible resource for financial assistance.

Temple staff will be making every effort in the coming days to reach out to program planners and individuals directly affected by this decision. Temple’s office will be open during regular hours to answer your questions, receive your concerns, and to help you plan for your virtual participation, but we request that you curtail in-person visits. We so regret the inconvenience and disappointment we will all experience in the coming days and look forward to new ways to connect. Please plan to join Temple’s rabbis for a virtual coffee on Tuesday mornings at 10:00am using the Zoom information above as but one example!

Please be assured that this policy will be reviewed daily by Temple’s staff and lay leadership, in consultation with the best guidance of the public health and scientific communities, and will be rescinded or extended as necessary.

With much appreciation for your understanding as together we navigate this uncertain world,

President David Weisberg
Rabbi Aaron Meyer
Rabbi Jessica Locketz
Executive Director Leslie Hoffman
ECDC Director Iris Harlan


Kulanu is back again for the second year!  Kulanu is Temple Emanuel’s “small groups” program in which Temple Members join together, in small groups around a shared common interest.  And it’s time to sign up to be part of a Kulanu group. We’ve added new groups based on your feedback and requests. We expect that there will be a group for everyone – and if there isn’t, we’ll work to help you create it.  

We expect there are questions about Kulanu; We’ve provided answers to the ones we’ve anticipated. However if we missed your question, feel free to reach out to us – we’re always happy to talk, email or text!


Beth Schwartz 412-877-5996

Kate Louik 412-999-0188


Q: What is Kulanu all about?  What is the purpose?

A: Kulanu is about connecting Temple members with shared interests.  It’s a way to help Temple members get to know each other, either to meet new people who they haven’t met or to develop deeper ties with members they know a little bit. The groups are based on different interests so members all share something in common from the outset.  The focus groups and surveys that were done as part of the Sr. Rabbi Search process revealed that Temple members are looking for opportunities to develop deeper connections with each other. Kulanu is one of the initiatives we developed to respond to this need.

Q: I’m eager to join a Kulanu Group! How do I sign up?  

A: Joining a Kulanu group is easy – simply complete an interest form to let us know which group you (you and your partner, or your family) want to join. Simply click here to complete the sign up form!.  You can also sign up by completing the interest form that is in bulletin.  There will be links to the online form in our weekly Temple Happenings emails. And you can always link to it from the Temple Emanuel website.  Just go to the Community section.  

Q: What kind of a commitment am I making when I join a Kulanu group?

A: Kulanu groups generally meet every 4-6 weeks but the exact frequency is up to each group.  The success of the group depends on the commitment of the participants so we do ask that you be prepared to commit to being an active participant. Generally the groups are designed to stay together for a year.  Some groups may continue beyond a year if the participants so choose. 

Q: My wife and I have different interests.  Are Kulanu Groups designed for couples or individuals?  Or are we supposed to all join as a family?

A:  Kulanu groups are for all of the above.  There will be groups for families, groups that are all couples, and groups that are all adult members (individuals and/or couples or a combination of both).  When you sign up you will specify whether you are doing so as an individual, couple or family. We’ll group you accordingly. And you can join more than one group – so you can join a family Kulanu group and one that just you are interested in.

Q: What are examples of some of the Kulanu groups?

We have a wide variety of offerings.  The actual groups that form will depend on what people are interested in.  Many of the new groups added this year came at the recommendations of our members.  A SAMPLING of this variety includes: Dining, Shabbat/Holiday observance, cycling, walking, dog walking, social action projects, cooking/baking, running and jewish study (combined), family playdates, music jam sessions, clay shooting, theater . . . . . . . . . Check out the sign up forms to see the full listing (on the digital form, you need to start the sign up process to get the list of group offerings.

Q: I have an interest that isn’t listed on the sign up form.  How do I create a Kulanu group for it?

A: Let us know what you want to do – others might have expressed interest. (Fill out the “other” option on your sign up form).  Also, feel free to ask other Temple members if they are interested in your group. We like to say that it takes 3 to Kulanu! If you can find two other people who are interested, you can start your Kulanu group (we’ll help you find them too).  And we’ll include your idea on next year’s sign up sheet.

Q: How do I know I’ll be placed in the group that I want to be in?

A: When you sign up you will rank order your preferred groups 1, 2, and 3.  We will make every effort to place you in your first group, then 2nd, then 3rd.  If we have questions or are having difficulty accommodating your interests, we’ll be in touch!  And if only one group interests you, just sign up for one.

Q: I really like my Kulanu group from last year.  Can we stay together?

A: Your group can stay together.  Or some of the participants can continue and others can “drop out” and others can continue.  Your group can also bring in new participants if some or all of you want to continue but you could also benefit from some new participants.  (If that is the case, let Beth or Kate know that you want some new people).  

Q: I was in a Kulanu Group last year that never took off, how will I know that this year will be better?

A: Many of the Kulanu groups that we formed last year worked very well, but unfortunately some did not. While there is no guarantee that any group will click together perfectly, we learned a lot from how things went last year and have changed the way we are forming the groups this year.  We hope that this year will see greater success for all of the groups.


Summer, Shabbat, S’mores and More!

Last Shabbat we gathered in Bird Park for a “welcome to summer” picnic and service. It was a beautiful evening in a beautiful place, surrounded by friends of all ages. For many of us, it was truly the start of summer break – a perfect way to begin the ‘lazy days of summer.’ Running through the park, sharing a meal, talking to each other as the the evening cooled and the busyness of the week faded… Shabbat, and the sense of calm that it brings descended as we prayed together – led in worship by Rabbi Mahler, Rabbi Locketz and Rebecca Schwartz. We were inspired through singing songs and sharing the spirit of Shabbat with each other. Thank you to Rebecca for a powerful message about the work that needs to be done within a community; and for reminding us that we should all be proud of our contributions to it.

After the service, it was time for s’mores….what could be better than that?!?!?!


Join us for our next Service in Bird Park on Friday, September 7th. We will once again come together for a picnic dinner at 5:45 pm followed by a brief Shabbat service at 6:30 pm. And of course there will be S’mores….yum!

Mark your calendars; be sure not to miss it!

A “Food-Filled” Visit to SHIM

Remember all those bags of food under the stairs that you couldn’t help noticing when you went upstairs?  Thank you to everyone who brought in food during our annual drive for the SHIM food Pantry. On November 6th, after filling ours cars with donations, our 4th grade families brought it all to the food pantry and helped sort it and restock the shelves. What a mitzvah!

It’s the weigh in – did we bring more food than our 4th graders weigh? We did! [Once again, parents did not get on the scale!]