Last updated May 20, 2020
Dear UH Family,
Nine weeks ago, when we entered the stay-at home order we were just finishing the book of Exodus and offered the blessing Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazek…. Let us be strong, let us be strengthened by one another, and strong we have been. Throughout the stay at home order, UH never closed because Judaism does not close, it does not stop. Instead, we pivoted. We could not be in our building, in our beloved physical space, so moved ourselves to a digital space and continued doing what we do – praying, learning, being together – reminding ourselves that regardless of a pandemic, Judaism continues to thrive. Where we needed to, we adapted and adjusted, allowing ourselves to continue forward rather than stopping in place.
Many of you have been asking when we are going to reopen our doors at United Hebrew. As you are probably aware, St. Louis County reduced some of the restrictions on businesses effective Monday, May 18. While we are encouraged by this development, we must take every step with careful consideration. We have heard other congregations in the country using the metaphor of a dimmer switch which seems to be the most accurate. When we reopen it will be slow and deliberate with the possibility that we may turn the “dimmer” back down. With things still changing daily, know that we are building flexibility into every plan that we make. Therefore, we are asking everyone to be patient with us as we continue to adapt and adjust to the “new” realities of living safely with COVID-19. Knowing there will never be 0% risk, we are exploring ways we can bring our community back together, safely. As frustrating as that may seem, difficult times are not new to our people, and we are resilient because we have learned to face our challenges and when needed be creative, looking for opportunities to grow and change for the better.
So, what does this mean in the near term?
Except for essential operations, our building will remain closed to the public through the month of June.
In Phase 1 of our re-open plan, beginning Tuesday, May 26, essential staff will begin returning to the building to answer phones, return emails and monitor the doors as well as continue the work on site they have been doing from home. On June 1, the Saul Spielberg Early Childhood Center will reopen on a modified basis from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for our year-round families. Prior to entering the building everyone must verify that they are free of certain symptoms associated with COVID-19 and have their temperature checked. All individuals, except for very young children will be required to wear face masks. Only the school side entry, by the Kaplansky Center and business office will be utilized at this time for anyone entering the building. Those who pick up meals on Monday through UH Catering will continue to pull into the circle drive on the sanctuary side.
While we are hopeful the time will soon come, we are not yet opening the building for any services, classes, in person meetings with the clergy, committee meetings or programs during the month of June. These have all been thriving online and will continue to do so at the present time. We will continue to function in this fashion going forward. As UH will not be open to the congregation at large, or to visitors, if it is necessary, we ask that you schedule an appointment with an employee before coming to the building.
We will continue to embrace those who must, or choose, to stay home, even after restrictions are lifted.
Just because we can return, does not mean we all should or that we will all feel comfortable returning. Restrictions on gathering sizes and the limitations on vulnerable population’s participation will likely continue for a while. Even when we can be together again, it is our intention to offer a hybrid of in person and digital classes and programs.
We will celebrate UH and our newest Chai Society members at our Annual Event
Peace, Love, Rock & Roll will still be celebrated on Sunday, August 30. While not the evening of gathering for dinner and dancing that we had envisioned, we are so excited to celebrate with you. Please get dressed up, raise your glass, and come to your computer with a spirit of celebration! We are in the process of working out the details of our digital celebration and will communicate them to you soon.
We will share an incredible High Holy Day season together.
It is painfully unrealistic to think that this September’s High Holy Days will look like they have in the past. Our clergy, staff, and advisory committee are looking at a myriad of possibilities for how we might come together to engage everyone in the spiritual work of the season. Regardless of the space or spaces, our clergy team, staff, and congregants are already planning for an engaging and powerful High Holy Day experience. We will continue to keep you informed as we move forward with our plans.
We will make responsible policy-informed decisions about our programs.
All decisions associated with reopening the building have been based upon the guidance and consultation of experts in the field as well as an advisory committee made up of UH members. This committee will continue to assist the clergy, staff, officers and board in determining the most appropriate actions going forward and when to begin allowing smaller groups into the building for classes and meetings.
Now, as always, your clergy and community are here for you. Just as we began our stay at home order with a blessing of strength, so too do we continue with that blessing. Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazek – We are #UHStrong wherever we are — in our building or at home, from 6 feet away, or across the Zoom gallery — we are in this together, and we are stronger together. Thank you for being a part of the UH Family.
Programs and Classes
All on-site programs, meetings and worship have been canceled. We will re-evaluate periodically. Check this web page for updates.
Click here for a schedule of virtual offerings
If you would like to volunteer with Jewish Family Services to help members of the community get needed groceries or medicine, please contact Jeremy Goldberg, JFS’ Volunteer Coordinator directly at 314-513-1679 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jewish Family Services provides financial assistance and interest-free loans to help individuals and families cope with short-term crisis situations through interest-free loans. Call Patricia Harris at JFS at 314-513-1678 for information.
If you are 65 years of age or older and would like to reach out directly to Jewish Family Services for support you can contact Lori Zimmerman with ElderLink St. Louis at email@example.com or 314-812-9300.
Resources from the St. Louis County Public Health Department