A message from CAA’s President:
Dear Congregation Agudat Achim Family,
As everyone knows, the unprecedented situation with the Coronavirus has caused major disruptions to our everyday lives. As of this letter, per Governor Baker’s ban, all public schools are closed until at least April 6, restaurants are closed until April 17 for dining in and can only provide take out service, and each member of society has been asked to follow guidelines in order to try to prevent the spread from reaching numbers that could impact our health system. I strongly urge everyone one of us to follow these guidelines. These temporary and new policies were discussed at our board meeting last night on March 16, 2020 by some in attendance and some remotely. I need to share with you the measures leadership of Congregation Agudat Achim has decided and is implementing due to the spread of COVID 19 based off of CDC guidance and in conjunction with Massachusetts state recommendations.
First, our shul is closed effective immediately until April 19, 2020 and thus all activities have been cancelled. This includes but is not limited to all Shabbat services, the community Seder, religious school, Thursday’s minyan, etc. Please keep in mind this date may change. This was a difficult decision but obviously the correct one. Rabbi Eichenholtz is very busy working extremely diligently on providing our community with information on how each of us can continue to practice our Judaism during this time without prayer together. Furthermore, she’s working on Passover information as well, some of which you may already have received. Please read all correspondences from her as they are sent out. There are also plans underway to continue the religious school remotely. Our Principal Debbie Fruchtman is working with the teachers (and in conjunction with the Rabbi) to create remote learning for our religious school and more information should be forthcoming this week for parents. Not only do we have to make plans for the Agudat Achim community, we have tenants that have been notified about our current policy of the closed building and we are working with them on an individual basis for any potential issues this may cause them.
Next, our Chesed committee is planning to reach out to all congregants to check in and see if anyone needs anything, be that a person to talk to you, and to inquire about necessities, if any, people might require assistance. If any member is in need, the committee will do its best to assist them.
For the safety of everyone in the community, please do not come to the synagogue during this time. Please call the office if you have any questions or concerns. Our building will still be occupied by the Rabbi, SJ, and Ed and they will take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe while at the same time ensuring that the needs of our community are being met. Again, our building is closed until April 19 and if that date changes a communication will be sent. Lastly, be very, very cautious of potential spam and/or phishing attempts via email, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
Words cannot express my most sincere appreciation to the Rabbi, SJ, and Ed for their tremendous hard work and dedication during these unparalleled times.
Please do not hesitate to contact SJ in the office, Rabbi Eichenholtz, or myself at 978-660-1465 or at email@example.com with any questions, issues, or concerns you might have. I thank everyone for their understanding and taking a moment to read this. I wish everyone a safe and calm time as we all try get through this together.
I look forward to seeing you all back in shul when a sense of normalcy returns.
Please be smart, be well, and be safe,
ANNOUNCEMENTS MAR 13 – 14
Sadly the synagogue building is now closed until April 19, 2020
We are working on ways of helping us all stay in touch and support each other while maintaining the “physical distancing” required to help reduce the spread of COVD-19.
Please stay posted for more details over the next days and weeks!
Rabbi Eichenholtz, our Principal Debbie Fruchtman, and our wonderful committees and teachers are all working together to adapt our programming and keep us connected and
our spirits up in this tough time—stay tuned!
All events and services at the synagogue are cancelled until April 19th
(If this date changes, we will let you know right away)
Regarding Passover Seders at home, we have reached out to some local caterers:
The Crown Market—2471 Albany Ave, West Hartford, CT 06117
No Hot Food Bar, still have “Grab-and-Go” options, regular hours
Still offering Catering options for 25 people
Zayde’s Market—15 Washington St, Canton, MA 02021
Still receiving daily deliveries, still open regular hours
Actively taking orders for Passover
The Butcherie—428 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446
Offering catering from their Passover Menu only, minimum of order of 10 people
Tova’s Catering—253 Mansfield Ave, Norton, MA 02766
Offering catering for Passover Seder with an a la carte menu—please call them if you need help planning a menu, they are happy to help you figure it out!
A message from Rabbi Eichenholtz:
March 17, 2020
Dear Congregation Agudat Achim,
We are living in novel times, not only because of the novel coronavirus, but because of the ways our lives are adjusting to protect one another, and our society. As Jews we use mitzvot to structure our actions, our time, our choices, our priorities and right now it is clear that Judaism teaches we need to prioritize pikuach nefesh, protecting our lives.
Social distancing, quarantine and isolation are all terms being used to describe how we keep physical space between individuals. We are being told by scientists and public health experts that the best way to exercise control over this global pandemic is to restrict our physical interactions with other people. Currently in Massachusetts that means gatherings of over 25 people are suspended as are communal food experiences. Schools are closed and many people are being told to work remotely or being moved to shift work where possible.
While we will of course abide by those guidelines I believe Jewish law compels us to go a step further. We must follow the words of Rabbi Hillel in Pirkei Avot, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” We can not and should not wait for the next step. We must act now, which is why we are suspending all in-person gatherings at synagogue through at least April 19th, and we will continue to update the community throughout this time.
While following Rabbi Hillel and taking decisive action now is important it is also important that we remember we are not only for ourselves. As a community we will continue to come together and support one another and experience meaningful Judaism. When we speak about pikuach nefesh we translate it as save a life, but nefesh can also mean soul, and it is important to attend to not only our physical health but also our spiritual, emotional and mental health. The Jewish world has done an incredible job in the past weeks to move ourselves to a virtual platform. Congregations, clergy and Jews who never used electricity on Shabbat, are live-streaming and zooming services. Families who wouldn’t typically use the phone are calling relatives for Shabbat meals by speakerphone. As your Rabbi, I encourage you to find the right balance for your family. Use any and all means of technology to pikuah nefesh to preserve your wellbeing, physical and spiritual during these times. For some of us or people we know, the prospect of staying home, is not only daunting or irritating or isolating; it is truly scary. 1-781-647-JFCS (5327) is the number for Journey to Safety, a program of Jewish Family and Children Services – Boston. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 and is also available by text and internet chat on their website.
Over the next days, before Shabbat, I will be sending out another document, with resources for prayer including congregations that are live streaming their services, and other Jewish experiences. I will also be recording and posting a Shabbat message for our community to share thoughts of Torah with all of you. Debbie Fruchtman, our Education Director, is hard at work, with our teachers, creating home and online lessons and activities that will serve our students during this extended time away from our physical classrooms.
Our chesed committee and board are hard at work setting up phone trees and zoom opportunities to maintain our connections and make sure all needs are met in our community. We want to hear from you, both what you need and how you can help. Let’s keep in more regular contact by phone, e-mail and video communication since we won’t be seeing each other in person.
I know that this time-period is long and encompasses the beginning of Passover. Passover is a time when we gather, often in larger groups and celebrate at a communal table, our story from darkness to light, from despair to triumph, from slavery to freedom. At the end of our seder we look forward to next year, and this year we will look forward to gathering at large joyous tables again next year. This year, I will be following the recommendations by having fewer than 10 guests at my seder and I hope you will consider this as well. I know that means that some in our community will be unexpectedly making seder. Over the next weeks, I will be creating and compiling seder resources, both physical and digital to help you in this endeavor, so we can all have a safe and meaningful Passover.
Most importantly is the knowledge that all of our actions today and through the coming weeks are done for pikuach nefesh, the preservation of life, body and spirit. I am grateful to Scott Zibel and the leadership for all of their efforts and support in making decisions in these difficult times. We will continue to update the congregation and look forward to our novel ways of staying connected and being Jewish today.
May we all be blessed with health, happiness and strength,
Rabbi Eve Eichenholtz