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In this most difficult time, the Shul made a decision to begin services again for Shavous after a two month stop.  It was a decision made with great thought, and I believe it was the correct decision to make.  We went into that davening not knowing what to expect or how the services would play out.  Our decision was made based upon the recommendation of several groups.  We pulled various guidelines together and we began our davening.  It was, indeed, strange, to come into our beautiful new sanctuary and see all the chairs removed, except for the ten chairs we left in per the original guidelines.  It was strange to see everyone, or rather to see part of everyone as we are now covered with masks.  It was strange to see the person getting an Aliyah stand behind and off to the side of the reading desk.  But, we did it all and our services began.

Since our opening, we have moved into new guidelines, so I feel it is now time to explain and clarify what we are doing now.

First, attendance at services are restricted to members only.  While we appreciate people’s desire to be able to daven once again in a minyan, we must accommodate our members at this time.  I encourage those non-members who want to attend our services to discuss this with their own Rav as to when and how their Shul will open.  We will place a sign on our door indicating that our services are for members only.

We have been able to increase our minyan to 15 men.  This is now the recommended number.  Our Gabbi and House Chairman went through great pains to measure out the sanctuary.  They have been able to determine that there is adequate room for these 15 seats and still maintain proper social distancing.  When you enter, please do not move the chairs as they have been placed in their proper spot to maintain the proper social distancing.  If you arrive and see that we are at full capacity, we ask you to leave.  If you feel that you cannot, you must remain in the hallway and please do not come into the sanctuary.

To avoid confusion and embarrassment we are asking you to make a reservation with our Gabbi, Ira Kahn.  Ira can be reached at (312) 720-2200. All reservations must be in no later than Thursday.  Preference will be given to those with a Yahrzeit or other special reason for being in shul.  Again, please understand that we will close our reservations at 15.

Please try to bring your own Siddur and Tallis to services.  If you need to use one from the Shul, do not put it back on the bookshelf or rack, in the case of the Tallis, but put it on the table in the library.

Many guidelines have been given as to whom should and whom should not attend the minyan.  We are not taking temperatures on arrival or requiring a doctor’s note if you fall into the at-risk categories of current guidelines.  We trust that you will make the proper decision concerning attending and will not put yourself or your fellow congregants in danger.  Please be reminded that Skokie Central Congregation is not the guarantor of your health and safety, and your participation is at your own risk.

These are the current guidelines which we are going to be davening under.  If you do not feel comfortable with our guidelines (for example davening with 15 people), the Rabbanim still have the pronouncement in place that one is not, during these difficult times, obligated to daven with a Minyan.  You may still daven at home as you have been doing.

Please remain safe and healthy.  May it be the will of Hashem that this crisis passes, and we are once again davening as we did before, together in our beautiful new home.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Dr. Michael Gottesman

Mon, August 10 2020 20 Av 5780