Synagogues, JCC Tweaking COVID Policies

After two years of uncertainty ranging from closing buildings and having fully virtual services and classes, to enforcing masking and checking vaccination status, the Jewish facilities in the Twin Cities are starting to change their Covid protocols that more closely align with pre-pandemic life.

Starting with services on March 4, Beth El announced in an email earlier this week that masks are welcome, but will not be required, and that proof of vaccinations, boosters, or negative COVID tests are no longer required to enter the building.

“Pikuach nefesh makes it clear that it is a commandment for those who are eligible to be vaccinated,” Beth El’s email read. “For the last seven months Beth El has required proof of vaccinations or a negative PCR test to enter the building. We have also required masking by everyone inside the building, regardless of vaccination/booster status.”

The change in protocol was made, in part, because of how the community adapted to the previous standards, the most recent CDC masking guidance changes, and the changes the school districts are making to mask requirements. 

Elsewhere, Beth Jacob Congregation’s new executive director Jamie SkogBurke said starting with Shabbat morning, March 5, that congregants can eat in the building again. 

“We will be providing both a to-go buffet line and a sit-down buffet line in the social hall for our Kiddush following services, so community members can choose their comfort level,” SkogBurke wrote in an email. KN-95 Masks will continue to be required in communal areas, such as the sanctuary, chapel, and hallways.

Temple of Aaron, in its weekly email, said that the sanctuary capacity is reduced to 156 with various rows closed to enforce social distancing. Anyone who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine must also be fully vaccinated to attend, and anyone three and older must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth during the entire service and in the hallway spaces.

Mount Zion and Shir Tikvah are both in the process of looking at their policies and what comes next.

At the Minnesota JCC, masks are recommended but not required for people participating in indoor activities at both the Capp Center St. Paul and Sabes Center Minneapolis buildings. Although for upcoming events in St. Paul – Seussical The Musical and the Minnesota JCC Symphony Orchestra concert, masks will still be required. However, at both JCC Early Childhood Centers, masks will be required until the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention issues new guidance for childcare programs.

The Sabes Center is a tenant of the Barry Family Campus (BFC), whose protocols still require masks in shared common spaces such as the main lobby and restrooms.