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Dear Friends,


Things are quite different this year! Over the years that I have had the privilege of being at
Beth Jacob, I have grown to love the High Holiday services in all their grandeur. Please note
that while services will be different this year, we have been working assiduously to ensure that
we offer meaningful, safety-compliant services for all. To accommodate and encourage the
greatest number of participants, we will offer several modified and shortened services on our
campus. We will also stream certain services as outlined below.


Please read the entirety of this letter to learn about all of the changes to our High Holiday
operations this year and how you can participate.


On-Campus Services

Logistic, Seating, Parking


In-person attendance requires adherence to the arranged social distancing seating and masks
must be worn at all times while on campus. These are unfortunate but necessary measures.
Each person who will attend services on campus must sign up ahead of time at the link
provided toward the end of this letter to ensure that we have sufficient seating for everyone
with adequate spacing between seats. There are separate sign-ups for men and women so we
can arrange the seats appropriately. As you can imagine, seating and spacing necessarily will
be limited, and first priority will be given to shul members. Households can be seated
together/adjacent to each other. If you wish to be seated with your household, please
indicate accordingly when signing up (see illustration below). Please sign up by Tuesday,
September 15 th.


Parking: All services will be held outdoors. There will be a large temporary tent in the
parking area that will serve as the prime location for our outdoor services. As a result, the
parking lot will be closed to all cars.


Rosh Hashana Services


Following guidance from the OU and the RCA, we will offer modified, shortened services to the
extent possible. Please note that there will be no cantor / chazzan this year, nor will there be a
choir for any of our services. If possible, please bring your own Machzorim (see below for
purchase links). Please also note that due to space and distancing restrictions, we must
unfortunately limit attendance for all on-campus services to those who are Bar or Bat Mitzvah
age and older. Children younger than Bar/Bat Mitzvah age will not be permitted to attend. We will hold a separate program/shofar blowing for children on Sunday afternoon, September 20.
Please see below for details.


We will offer four separate services for each of the Rosh Hashana mornings, Saturday,
September 19th and Sunday, September 20th . These will be shortened services so certain
paragraphs/sections will be omitted, they will feature less singing, and we will have shortened
Misheberachs by Torah readings. And yes, even the rabbi’s speech will be shorter. We
anticipate that each service will last approximately two hours. The services for Rosh Hashana
will be as follows:


Rosh Hashana Shacharit Options:


1. 7:00am Ashkenas Hashkama Services beginning with a shortened Psekei D’zimrah
(Baruch She’amar, Ashrei, Nishmat—the rest should be said on your own prior to
services), Shacharit, Torah Reading, Shofar Blowing (Sunday), Mussaf.
2. 7:00am Sephardic Services
3. 8:30am Regular Ashkenas Services beginning with a shortened Psekei D’zimrah (Baruch
She’amar, Ashrei, Nishmat—the rest should be said on your own prior to services),
Shacharit, Torah Reading, Rabbi’s Words, Shofar Blowing (Sunday), Mussaf.
4. 10:45am Ashkenas Services Torah Reading, Rabbi’s Words, Shofar Blowing (Sunday),
Mussaf.


Rosh Hashana Mincha-Maariv Evening Services:

  • 6:15pm, Friday evening, September 18 th

  • 6:10pm, Saturday evening, September 19 th

  • 6:20pm. Sunday September 20 th

We may add additional services if there is sufficient demand.


Staying Home, Streaming Options, and Yizkor

  • Machzorim/prayer books

If you prefer to stay home for the High Holidays, I will be sending out a guide for prayers to be
said at home with page numbers and all. If you don’t have your own set of Machzorim (High
Holiday Prayer books), I strongly encourage you to purchase your own set. It is a great
investment. You may purchase the ArtScroll set here or the Koren set here

We will also be lending out copies of theBirnbaum (red cover) Machzor for those who do not have a machzor.

  • Streaming options

For the past few months, we have streamed Friday night davening on GoToMeeting to allow
people to participate until we power down just before sunset. We will do the same for the
High Holidays. On Rosh Hashana Eve, Friday, September 18 th , we will stream mincha services
starting at 6:15 pm up through the Rabbi’s Drasha on GoToMeeting and will power down just
prior to sunset. On Yom Kippur Eve, Sunday, September 27 th , we will stream Kol Nidrei and the
Rabbi’s Drasha starting at 6:10 pm and will power down just prior to sunset. If you wish to
participate in any of these services via GoToMeeting, you may do so at the following link
https://www.gotomeet.me/RabbiCiner

As we did prior to Pesach and Shavuot, we will again stream Yizkor Services for those who
cannot attend yizkor services in person on Yom Kippur. The live-streamed yizkor service will be
held on Eruv Yom Kippur, Saturday night, September 26 th at 8:15pm at the following link
https://www.gotomeet.me/RabbiCiner

 

Children’s Shofar Blowing


On Sunday, September 20 at 2:30pm, we will offer a short program for children and will blow
shofar near the large gazebo at University Community Park near the intersection of Royce
Road and Beech Tree Ln (see map). If you wish to attend, please wear a mask and respect
distancing requirements.


Sign-Up for Services Is Required:


Each service will have its own sign-up list, one for men and one for women. As noted above,
household members who would like to sit together should sign up as a single quantity (1) and
then let us know how many household members will be attending as indicated below:

You can sign up for services here:
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040549a5ae2faaf58-rosh


We thank you for your partnership and steadfast support for the shul and community
during these unusual times and we look forward to sharing uplifting and meaningful
holidays.

Wishing you, your family, the community and the world a healthy, happy, growth-filled,
sweet New Year!

Yisroel Ciner
Warren Morten
BJI Board

Phase 1 Reopening

Phase 1: Beginning June 10, 2020

RSVP is REQUIRED.
Last minute attendance will not be allowed.
No Exceptions.

Dear Friends,

 

We hope you are well and safe during this tumultuous time. 

 

We write to provide the community with an update of when and how the shul plans to reopen.  It is important to note that the information in this email is subject to change.  As local and state guidelines are updated, we will work to modify accordingly and will inform the community.  All information, guidelines, and procedures shall apply to all shul activities that take place on our campus, and are equally applicable to both the Ashkenaz and Sephardi minyanim.

 

On May 8, 2020, the Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America, in conjunction with leading poskim and medical professionals, issued guidance for how Orthodox shuls and communities should reopen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  As stated in those guidelines, “[t]he resumption of communal prayer and other communal activities should not be considered until—at the very least—the successful and verified safe completion of the local government’s first stages of communal reopening, i.e. at least two weeks after the local governments have allowed public gatherings of more than ten persons, and have not seen upticks in disease.”  On May 25th, the State of California issued guidelines for places of worship to reopen.  On May 26th, Orange County adopted a resolution to allow houses of worship to reopen according to applicable state and local guidelines.  Thus, we are currently in the two-week waiting period starting May 26. 

 

We are monitoring the spread of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Orange County (as reported by the OC Health Agency), which continue to rise, unfortunately.  As a result, we are not yet ready to fully reopen the shul but we believe that we can safely open for limited weekday minyanim, with modifications described below.  Shabbat services will resume at a later date.  We continue to monitor the situation and hope to reopen the shul as soon as practicable. 

 

In anticipation of our reopening, we are implementing several changes to the policies and procedures of how we will operate all minyanim that will take place on campus.  These procedures apply to ashkenaz and sephard minyanim alike.  Please review these changes carefully.  Your assistance and cooperation is necessary to ensure a safe and successful reopening. 

 

Phased Reopening

 

We are happy to announce Phase 1 which will begin with weekday outdoor minyanim in the shul parking lot for evening mincha/maariv minyanim this Wednesday (6/10) and Thursday (6/11) at 6:15pm. Mincha will be before plag and maariv will be after. One Ashkenaz and Sephard service will take place in the shul parking lot. Further details below. 

 

Phase 2 will move weekday services indoors with modifications and limitations.

 

Phase 3 will resume services on Shabbat and holidays with modifications and limitations.  We will keep the community informed about the status of the phases and when each will begin. 

 

Phase 4 will resume services as normal (or as close to normal as can be).


As we prepare to reopen Beth Jacob, we understand that not everyone will be able to attend and others may feel that they may not yet be ready to attend services.  We plan to continue to offer a virtual platform for our programming, including minyanim to the extent possible, so that those individuals may still participate nonetheless. 

 

The Board continues to monitor the situation with COVID-19 and applicable guidance from Orange County, the State of California, the Centers for Disease Control, and the OU/RCA.  If health orders or guidance change and become more restrictive, or if the resumption of services prove to pose a health and safety hazard, Beth Jacob’s phased reopening may be modified accordingly.

 

Procedures for Shul Attendance – Phase 1

The following precautions and procedures will be implemented starting with Phase 1.  Please note that there will be NO EXCEPTIONS to these procedures.  Anyone who fails to comply with these procedures will be asked to leave. 

  • Masks will be required and must be worn while on campus

  • RSVP for each attendee will be required.  RSVP will be required by 8:00 pm the day before. RSVP can be made by clicking HERE, through the Beth Jacob website or by calling the shul office during morning hours. Last minute attendance will not be allowed. 

  • In Phase 1, minyan will take place outside in the parking lot.  Each attendee will park in a designated spot with at least one empty parking space between each car.  Attendees will stand or sit outside of his or her car.  

  • If you wish to sit during minyan, please bring your own folding chair.  

  • Each person must bring his or her own siddur, tallis, tefillin, or any other required item.  

  • Shul facilities (bathroom, kitchen, etc.) will remain closed.  Please plan accordingly. 

  • Wash your hands before attending services.  

  • Bring your own hand sanitizer.

  • No children under the age of bar/bat mitzvah will be allowed at this time, unfortunately. 

  • If you are 65 or older or have a chronic medical condition (including lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, severe kidney or liver disease, neurological disorders, and the immunocompromised), please consult with your physician before attending minyan.  

  • There will be no physical contact between people or touching of ritual objects. 

  • Anyone who attends minyan and subsequently tests positive for COVID-19 must promptly inform Rabbi Ciner so that we may conduct necessary contact tracing to prevent further spread. 

  • By attending minyan, you agree to participate in contact tracing should it become necessary.  
     

Requirements To Attend Services

In order to attend minyan, you must meet all of the following criteria: 

  • Advance RSVP will be required.  Last minute attendance will not be allowed. 

  • You must be free of any COVID-19 symptoms as detailed by the CDC, including: 

    • Cough 

    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 

    • Fever 

    • Chills

    • Muscle pain

    • Sore throat

    • New loss of taste or smell

  • Anyone without these specific symptoms but otherwise does not feel well may not attend.  

  • If you were infected with COVID-19 or recently were exposed to COVID-19 or have reason to suspect you were exposed to COVID-19, you must be symptom-free for at least two weeks.  

  • Attendees must not have traveled internationally within the past 14 days. 

  • If you are in a high-risk group (65+ or chronic medical condition), please consider not attending minyan at this time.  If you wish to attend nonetheless, please consult with your physician beforehand. 

  • Attendees must be over bar or bat mitzvah age. 
     

Procedures – Phase 2

When Phase 2 begins and we move minyan indoors, we will maintain the same protocols listed above (masks, RSVP, etc.) with the following modifications: 

  • Each person’s temperature will be taken with a touchless thermometer prior to entry to the shul campus.  Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 F or higher will not be allowed to enter the campus.  

  • We have organized the shul seating to maintain appropriate physical distancing of 6+ feet distance between chairs. 

  • Per current California guidelines, attendance will be limited to 25% of capacity, or 100 persons, whichever is fewer.  With the revised seating arrangement in the shul, we will be able to accommodate approximately 50 attendees. 

  • We may hold additional minyanim in the tent, shul parking lot, etc. to accommodate spillover crowds, if needed.  Any additional minyanim must abide by the same protocols.  

  • Shul restrooms will be open but will be cleaned and sanitized frequently.  
     

Please note that we discourage in the strongest possible terms the conducting of personal minyanim of any size and in any individual location other than officially sanctioned minyanim at Beth Jacob.  Such minyanim endanger lives and must not take place.
 

Our priority, as always, remains to protect the safety and maintain the well-being of our membership and our community.  If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact Rabbi Ciner or anyone on the Board. 
 

Thank you for your patience, continued understanding, and future cooperation. 
 

Sincerely,

Yisroel Ciner
 

Board of Directors: Warren Morten, Adam Teitcher, Saphira Greenberg, Matthias Lehmann, Ashley Nahum, Ray Paster, Michael Varon, Ilan Wolf

Rabbinical Update - May 15, 2020

Dear Members of Our Community,

We hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and well. It has been and continues to be a trying time for all of us, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. These are the kinds of times when we look out for one another with especially attentive eyes and open hearts.

Amidst all of the difficulties, there is some very promising news. Our communal compliance with the health guidelines has unmistakably paid off, diminishing rates of infection and death from the Coronavirus. This compliance has obviously come at a price, including the shuttering of our shuls for the past two months, depriving us fellowship, learning, and communal Tefilla. But we are proud of our fidelity to our halachik commitment that places the value of life (pikuach nefesh) above all else. As we move toward an easing of some restrictions, the question of the re-opening of shuls has of course come front and center. Our goal is to safely re-open our shuls as soon as possible, and we are already discussing mechanisms to prepare for that complicated eventuality. 

 As we did two months ago, the rabbis of our communities are speaking with one voice as to how we will proceed, as we seek to be faithful to Halacha, to remain in compliance with the law, and to protect one another’s health and well-being. We are guided by the principles enumerated in last week’s paper issued by the Orthodox Union and the RCA, and by continuous consultation with experts in the field. In practical terms, this will mean the following in terms of our communal behavior:
1.  We have not yet reached the phase of the County allowing the opening of houses of worship. That date has not yet been determined.
2.  As of this writing, no public gatherings of any size are permissible. As such, we continue to discourage in the strongest possible terms the conducting of minyanim of any size and in any location. Such minyanim endanger lives and must not take place.  
3.  Per the OU/RCA guidelines, we will reconsider reopening our Shuls only “at least two weeks after the local government has allowed public gatherings of more than ten persons, and have not seen upticks in disease.” Our commitment to the well-being of our community, in particular the elderly and the immune-compromised, demands nothing less.
4.  With a heavy heart then, but with complete confidence in the Halachik propriety of this decision, we are being explicit in saying that this includes the instruction that there not be any minyanim or learning groups (outside of immediate family) whatsoever over Shavuot. 

We urge all of our community members to abide by this policy. No one should be taking it upon themselves to make the judgement that the value of a minyan outstrips the disease or even death that might result, or outweighs our obligations to abide by the law. We will of course be in further touch with you as the circumstances change and, with God’s help, improve.

We remind all of us as well to conscientiously and religiously follow the practices  of social distancing.

Finally, we will ask everyone to consider marking “Yom Kippur Katan”, Thursday May 21st, as a day in which we engage in Torah, Tehilim / Tefila and Tzedaka. And for those who have the tradition to fast during these unique moments of calamity, to also take upon themselves a half-day fast (if you are physically able and comfortable doing so). We are a long way from the end of the danger presented by this pandemic, and beseech God for compassion and healing.

Rabbi David Adatto
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner
Rabbi Pini Dunner
Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn
Rabbi Dov Fischer
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Rabbi Alan Kalinsky
Rabbi Moshe Kesselman
Rabbi Elazar Muskin
Rabbi Ari Segal
Rabbi Joshua Spodek
Rabbi Y. Boruch Sufrin
Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin
Rabbi Kalman Topp
Rabbi Dr. Jason Weiner
Rabbi Avraham Zajac

Campus Closure Update - March 17, 2020

It is with a very heavy heart that we have decided to discontinue even the smaller daily minyan that we have maintained. Below we are sharing a copy of a letter that was sent to the Los Angeles Shuls. The letter proscribes very rigorous standards that should be implemented to limit the transmission of COVID-19, even when those interactions have small likelihoods of effecting transmission - we treat danger more stringently than we treat prohibitions.

Beth Jacob is our spiritual home and temporarily closing the doors is a painful but necessary step. We live in a world where our knowledge and understanding of medical science must shape and guide the halachic steps we take. The Talmud teaches: Sakanta gedola ma’issura—danger overrides prohibitions. While maintaining calm, this is a time to exercise vigilance, and understand that pikuach nefesh, danger to our health, is a matter that supersedes all other mitzvot and concerns (Talmud Yoma 85).

 

Letter to Synagogues throughout Los Angeles Area

Dear Fellow Community Members,

Over the last several days we have been hearing urgent messages from our elected officials and Department of Health representatives asking us to eliminate communal gatherings and to minimize in-person contact to the greatest degree possible. This is the best and surest way to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in our city. It will literally save lives and will prevent our local hospitals from becoming overwhelmed to the point of having to turn patients away.

This is the reason that we the undersigned have made the unprecedented decision to close our shuls and schools. It is vitally important, and a matter of Pikuah Nefesh, life and death, that everyone in our community abide by the following policies.

In order to receive professional guidance for the community, we held a conference call this afternoon with Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt of New York, an infectious disease expert and an Assistant Rabbi at the Young Israel of Woodmere, and Dr. Rick Riggs, Chief Medical Officer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in charge of overseeing Cedar's response to the Coronavirus. Considering our discussion with the doctors we the undersigned strongly recommend the following policies to be instituted immediately:

  1. Our shuls and schools will remain closed until further notice, when we are informed by the health officials that it is no longer a danger and we may resume our regular schedules. Until that time, every person should daven at home. There should be no house or backyard Minyanim since they undermine efforts to minimize the spread of the virus.
  2. We should all add Avinu Malkeinu at both Shachrit and Mincha until further notice. It should not be added on Friday afternoons or on a day when Tachanun is not said.
  3. All members of our community should minimize in-person contact with anyone outside of their immediate families. If you can work from home, please do so.Visits even among families should also be limited. Communication with parents and grandparents who are not living in your home should be virtual whenever possible.
  4. Although it is challenging in the absence of school, there should be no playdates or friend get togethers.One may play in the yard and go for a run, but it should not be with friends or with children of friends. We encourage people to go outside, but to stay distanced from other people even when outdoors.
  5. As social distancing continues, we should plan to have our Shabbat, Yom Tov and Sedarim without guests.
  6. "Shiva visits" should be made by phone or facetime.
  7. Support our Kosher restaurants by ordering out from the restaurants. Avoid eating in the confined spaces of restaurants which can lead to greater transmission.
  8. Only one person per household should go to the Supermarket. Children should not go to the store and people should not be socializing while in the store.
  9. Any person who has had exposure (defined as being within 6-8 feet for a period of 10 minutes or more) to someone who has testedpositive should immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. People without any symptoms who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient should not at this time seek medical attention or seek to get tested. They should self-quarantine. Please note that while the official DoH position requires quarantine after exposure only if the person has begun to have symptoms, we strongly advise to err on the side of caution based on the advice of the aforementioned two physicians.

10) Call your doctor if you start to have symptoms (increased congestion, coughing or fevers). Seek emergency medical treatment if you have difficulty breathing, but please do not go to the emergency room if you do not need emergency care.

Call ahead if possible and advise health care workers of possible exposure to COVID-19. Ask for a facemask as you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider's office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.

11) For a COVID-19 test enter your zip code to find out the nearest COVID-19 test site. (from US HRSA.gov website) https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/ Go to clinics instead of crowded large facilities. (Testing and Treatments are free.)

12) Any member of our community who has tested positive must immediately inform family and friends (or any acquaintances if applicable) who may have been exposed to him or her. This includes informing your rabbi or head of school.

13) We call on all of our community members and institutions to create formal systems and mechanisms by which people who are in need of assistance and people who can volunteer to provide assistance, are connected with one another. We encourage also helping the general public by donating to community charities of your choice. Please also remember to generously support Maot Chittim campaigns.

During these most challenging times when we all pray that Hashem accept our Tefilot, we encourage everyone to daven with exceptional Kavanah even though we are not meeting in our shuls for Tefilah B'Tzibur. We also ask you to set time for learning Torah and for doing Chessed. Each shul and school will be in contact with their members and students sharing their Torah Shiurim and Chessed opportunities that we all should join.

With Brakhot of good health and safety,

Rabbi David Block, Shalhevet High School
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, Pico Shul
Rabbi Asher Brander, LINK Kollel
Rabbi Daniel Cavalier, Young Sephardic Community Center
Rabbi Pini Dunner, Beverly Hills Synagogue
Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Yeshivat Yavneh
Rabbi Daniel Grama, West Side Shul
Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, Orthodox Union West Coast
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, Bnai David Judea
Rabbi Yehuda Moses, Kehilat Mogen David
Rabbi Elazar Muskin, Young Israel of Century City
Rabbi Adir Posy, Beth Jacob Congregation
Rabbi James Proops, Young Israel of Century City
Rabbi David Revah, Adas Torah
Rabbi Ari Segal, Shalhevet High School
Rabbi Joshua Spodek, YULA Girls
Rabbi Arye Sufrin, YULA Boys High School
Rabbi Y. Boruch Sufrin, Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy
Rabbi Kalman Topp, Beth Jacob Congregation
Rabbi Jason Weiner, Cedars Sinai Medical Center
Rabbi Aaron Wilk, Gindi Maimonides Academy

 

Wed, September 23 2020 5 Tishrei 5781