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Congregation Or Shalom
835 Darby Paoli Road
Berwyn, PA 19312
Tel: 610-644-9086
office@orshalom.com

Contacts

Rabbi:
Kami Knapp Schechter

President:
Andrew Levin

Education Director:
Larisa Averbakh

Office Manager:
Lauren Porter

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Covid-19 Update Letter

Dear Or Shalom Family,

Congregation Or Shalom is taking seriously COVID-19 and its threat to public health. We, as a community and family, are committed to remaining a tight knit group, no matter what lies ahead. Most importantly the safety and health first of our members takes precedence, therefore the board is making decisions based on guidance from the CDC, the Chester County health department, the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, and other agencies and communities within our neighborhood. In our discussions and decision making process, the Jewish values of pikuach nefesh (save/ maintain a life), kehillah kedosha (holy community), and v’ahavta l’reichacha kamocha (love of your neighbor) are the foundation of these processes. We believe strongly in upholding the mitzvah we take on every shabbat:
הריני מקבל מקבלת עלי מצות הבורא ואהבת לרעך כמוך
“I hereby accept the obligation of fulling my Creator’s mtizvah in the Torah: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

After long deliberation and discussion, we have made the following decisions for the time being:

Services, Hebrew School and Events:
The extremely difficult decision was made to suspend all services, adult education classes, events, and Hebrew school for the next two weeks in the best interest of our community in order to prevent the exposure to and spread of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, we will have to postpone the community dinner that was scheduled for March 27th. We are hoping to reschedule this for later in the Spring and it will be a much anticipated celebration when we come back together in person.

In addition, we have decided to cancel this year’s 2nd night Passover Seder. We made this decision for a number of reasons: because the event is based around food we are concerned about contamination, we want to give people plenty of time to find alternate plans, and the difficulty of aligning the timeline of placing orders with the uncertainty of the next few weeks. As things change over the next few weeks we will continue to assess whether we can hold a seder in some capacity.

Social Distancing Not Isolation: Maintaining Our Community
It is important to stress that although we will not be together, in person, for the next few weeks maintaining our community is a priority. Social distancing does not and should not mean isolation. Therefore we are working hard to plan creative ways to engage with each other, throughout this time. We will be meeting online next week to discuss ideas such as online classes and get togethers, phone tree check ins, and minyanim for kaddish online. Given that technology on Shabbat is a large issue that warrants lots of discussion, study, and values based decision making, we are not comfortable planning online minyanim as of right now. Please reach out if you have ideas as to how we may support one another despite the proscribed social distancing.

Congregant Support:
Or Shalom is committed to helping ensure all congregants are able to weather the possible financial disruption associated with temporary work closures. If you are in need of financial support, please reach out to Rabbi Kami. If you are able to help provide financial support, please also reach out. Our resources are limited, but nobody in our communal family should be going cold or hungry.

Congregant Visit and Calls:
Rabbi Kami will be increasing the number of calls during this time in order to continue to check in with folks. We encourage you to also be proactive in reaching out to her to check in as well as each other in the congregation. (If you receive a call from a 206 number, that is Rabbi Kami’s cell phone!) If you are staying in due to exposure concerns and would like a visitor, please let us know.

Personal Safety:
Please make the best decision for yourself to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Staff:
We are in the process of discussing with Rabbi Kami and LP whether they will be working from home or at times coming into the office. For the time being for general information continue to call or email the office with questions or concerns. As always, the best way to get in touch with Rabbi Kami is by email or calling her cell phone at: 206-915-7047.

We are in unprecedented times, times when we are most in need of each other. The challenge of this particular situation is that we are encouraged to distance ourselves physically from one another, but let us be inspired by our Jewish values which promote caring for one another and Am Yisrael, by connecting in unique and creative ways. This is not the time to be shy or self-conscious about calling. This is the time to push ourselves to go out of our way to show our love and support for one another.

The board will be meeting next week to continue to assess the situation and discuss ways to be together over the next few weeks. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Take care of yourselves and one another.

Shabbat Shalom,

Andy Levin, President

Rabbi Kami Knapp