JFVVI establishes emergency pandemic relief fund

JFVVI EPRFundThe JFVVI has established an Emergency Pandemic Relief Fund to provide as much help as possible for members of the Vancouver Island Jewish Community who are facing financial challenges as a result of the coronavirus/COVID19 pandemic. The fund will be administered by Jewish Family Services of Vancouver Island.

Donations received before April 6, 2020 will be generously matched by the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island
as part of their Pandemic Emergency Response Plan.

JFSVI will purchase gift cards from Aubergine Specialty Foods and mail them to any household that is in difficulty at this time of the Coronavirus closures.

Please donate online www.jfsvi.ca or send cheques to: Jewish Family Services VI JCC, 3636 Shelbourne Street, Victoria, BC V8P 4H2.

NO Emanu-El Communal Seder

Seder plateWith regret, Congregation Emanu-El will not hold a communal seder this year. We cannot hold such an event and sustain the recommended distance between people, nor can we manage with our space constraints to serve food for so many except as a buffet, which again is unsafe in these circumstances.
The Board, Rabbinic and Administrative staff are making this decision now, rather than waiting to see if things improve, for several reasons:

  1. We want to ensure the health of our members. A communal seder presents numerous risks better avoided.
  2. Cancelling early gives people time to make alternative plans with family and friends.
  3. There are costs involved that we can avoid by deciding now, before they are incurred.

We know that this will be a disappointment to many, particularly to those for whom the community seder provides their main opportunity to observe this mitzvah.  We will endeavor as a community to find ways to connect meaningfully and safely during this holiday.

All services & non-essential gatherings cancelled indefinitely

Dear Kehillat Kodesh Emanu-El,

We have all been following the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued spread with great concern. As the need for social distance in our community increases, we are making adjustments to our policies for gathering in the shul.

Regrettably, Shabbat and Thursday morning services are cancelled indefinitely. Also cancelled indefinitely are all non-essential in-person gatherings at the synagogue, with the exception of the Shalom Daycare.

It is our deepest hope that everyone in the community stays safe and healthy as we continue to find ways to connect over the phone or online until we can come together again. We will have more information on more ways to connect soon. In the meantime, please e-mail us if you have any questions or concerns, if you are in need of support, or if you have any suggestions for ways we can come together in heart and spirit, if not in body.

B’ahava,
Rabbi Matt and Sam Godfrey, President

Brown Bag Beit Midrash and Mystic Moka online

PHOTO-2020-03-17-22-42-003Last week Mystic Moka and Brown Bag Beit Midrash moved online/over-the-phone with the sessions extended by one hour. From now on, Brown Bag Beit Midrash will run on Tuesdays from 12:30-2:30 pm & Mystic Moka on Fridays from 12:30-2:30 pm. The classes are run through the program ZOOM, which can be accessed on-line or by phoning in. If you have not used this program before, please call in or log-in 10 minutes before it starts, in case you have issues. If it is your first time using it online, the link below will guide you through downloading the “app” and then take you into the meeting.

Here’s how to participate:

1. Join online: 
Click this link: https://zoom.us/j/208422038
Meeting ID:208 422 038
No password required
2. Regular Dial-in:
Call: 1 (778) 907-2071
Meeting ID: 208 422 038
No password required

Here’s an article you might find helpful: ‘How To Use Zoom Video Conferencing During Coronavirus Social Distancing’…

Important update re: COVID-19

outbreak-coronavirus-world-1024x506px_0

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: rabbimattponak@gmail.com

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