Important update re: COVID-19


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Dear Congregation Emanu-El,

I am writing to update you on Congregation Emanu-El’s response to COVID-19.

This response is based on the most up-to-date information available including the general recommendations for religious institutions provided yesterday by British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer. Given the rapidly changing situation of this global pandemic, the policy will be updated as necessary.

Effective March 13, and until further notice:

  1. Except for Shalom Daycare, Thursday Morning Minyan and Shabbat services, no gatherings of more than ten people shall take place at Congregation Emanu-El (CEE).
  2. For Thursday Morning and Shabbat services, changes will be made. These include: no kiddush luncheons, an expectation of no kissing of ritual objects (such as communal tallitot, siddurim, sifrei torah), and an expectation of limiting physical contact (no handshaking, hugging, kissing etc.)
  3. Please stay home if you are sick. Mild illness in one person can lead to more severe illness in someone else with underlying medical conditions. Stay home if you have any symptoms of respiratory illness. Elderly people or people with conditions that make them high-risk should take extra precautions and strongly consider staying home.

At this time the Pesach Market will continue and a decision about the community Seder will be made in the coming days.

If you do come to CEE please follow general precautions such as:

  • Hand-washing—Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after touching your face, before eating, and after using the washroom. This is the best way to prevent transmission of any virus. If a sink is not available, the next best option is hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content.
  • Avoid Touching Your Face if possible—COVID-19 and other viruses are spread through coughing and sneezing, but also by touching surfaces that the virus is living on and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it immediately. Alternatively, folks can cough or sneeze into their sleeve.
  • Social Distancing—As much as reasonably possible, keep two arms-lengths (one yours, one the other person’s) apart from others.

CEE has taken a number of other preventative steps such as increased cleaning and disinfection. We are also looking at the possibility of video-streaming services or events in conjunction with the Religious Services Committee.

Our goal is two-fold: we are taking proactive and precautionary actions to minimize the potential for COVID-19 spreading, and at the same time striving to maintain religious practices and social connection in our kehillah. We want to make sure we are supporting the elderly and anyone who is feeling unwell or isolated. Rabbi Matt is pulling together an expanded Outreach team. Please contact him directly if you want to help or need help:

This response is part of a policy that has been developed in coordination with the Board of Directors by a task force of CEE members (Susan Holtz, Pam Hutchison (ND), Caren Zilber-Shlensky (DO), Lindsey Lytle (MD), Rabbi Matt and myself).

If you want additional information on COVID-19, please see:

  • BCCDC COVID 19 Webpage
  • HealthLink BC COVID 19 Webpage
  • VIHA COVID19 Webpage
  • Health Canada COVID 19 Webpage
  • USCJ: Protecting your congregation and community from Coronavirus Webpage


With kind regards,

Sam Godfrey, President Congregation Emanu-El

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An inclusive, warm, and progressive Conservative synagogue in Victoria, B.C.

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