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.

ECDC:
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