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Updates from Robert Salston, Co-President



May 25, 2020  28 Iyar 5780

As most of you are aware, Governor Murphy is allowing religious institutions to begin having in person services with a maximum of 10 people present.  I want to reassure the congregation that, at the current time, we will not be opening our synagogue to in person services. We have already formed a committee of synagogue members who are physicians to help guide us in decisions regarding COVID-19.  This committee will be meeting in the near future to help develop guidelines that we will use when considering reopening. .  As always, the safety of our members, our clergy, and our staff will be paramount when making decisions.  We will not open until we deem it safe to do so.  Additionally, we are committed to continuing twice daily Zoom services indefinitely.  We will also keep the membership informed of developments.



May 18, 2020   24 Iyar 5780

The following is the article which will appear in the next issue of the Recorder.  Since some of the information may be outdated by the time the Recorder is published, I am including it here.

What has become clear to us is that the live streaming of daily services seven days a week (including Shabbat) has been enthusiastically received by many EBJC members. “Attendance” at our Zoom Shabbat services has attracted over 50 families each week. Many of our members have read a portion of the weekly parsha from a Chumash as well as have chanted the weekly Haftara on Zoom. We have already celebrated 3 B’nai Mitzvah and have attracted non-members who find our services spiritually uplifting. Yasher koach to Rabbi Pivo and Cantor Larry for providing us with an opportunity to daven “together alone.” And although we cannot have a virtual kiddush (though Steve Zeidwerg attempted to pass out gefilte fish through the computer screen a few weeks ago!) we have been able to virtually “hang out” after services wishing our friends a Shabbat Shalom, a Chag Sameach, a boker tov (good morning), or a laila tov (good evening). It has brought us joy to see our community remain as connected as it is. We would be remiss if we didn’t thank Jack Silverman as well for leading morning services.


At the time of this writing, it appears that cases of COVID-19 are on the wane in New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy (along with the governors from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) have been working together to coordinate the reopening of our economies. Some nonessential business will most likely be opening in the near future. So the question arises, how will this affect our services at EBJC, and how will we handle the High Holiday services? It has become apparent that EBJC has been among the leaders of Conservative synagogues in the planning and implementation of COVID 19 responses. We were in the first group of shuls to decide to close our physical plant as well as arrange for online services. Our parent organization, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, has scheduled a webinar on May 20th to discuss how synagogues can develop task forces to begin planning their High Holiday Services. EBJC has already formed such a task force and has been meeting for over three weeks to initiate planning (with the input from our Ritual Committee). In addition, the Rabbinical Assembly, the professional organization for rabbis in the Conservative movement, has sent a letter urging synagogues to be among the last organizations to open (especially because opening our synagogues to services with members present would create a temptation for the elderly or people with underlying medical conditions to attend services when they should not attend for their own safety--one of the very reasons EBJC decided to close as early as we did). They also recommended that synagogues develop committees of physicians to give informed medical advice relating to these issues. Again,we have such a committee already in place, and we will be relying on this committee to inform our decisions. The overriding factor guiding us will be the safety of our members, following the Jewish principle, pekuach nefesh, saving a life takes precedent over all other considerations.


Having said all this, it is important to state that even in the unlikely event that all restrictions are lifted, we are aware that many members would still not feel comfortable attending services in person. We will therefore continue to provide online services (including on the High Holidays) until such time as the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic is sufficiently mitigated so that even our at risk members could feel safe in returning to shul. We intend to have meaningful, spiritual High Holiday services available in some form, and we are committed to keeping our congregation informed on the progress of this planning.


We hope you and your families remain safe and healthy.




Bob Salston and Steve Zeidwerg

Co Presidents, EBJC




This year as we sit down at our Zoom sederim with fewer people present than in a typical year, it will seem strange and lonely.  As we begin reading the Magid (the telling of the Pasover story) section of the Haggadah, we recite Ha Lachma Anya.  We raise the matzah and say in English or Aramaic, "This is the bread of affliction which our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt."  It ends with the refrains,"Hashata hacha, l'shanna ha'ba'a b'ar'a D'Yis'rael.  Hashata av'dei, l'shanna ha-ba-a b'nei chorim."  Now we are here.  Next year may we observe Pesach in the land of Israel.  This year we are slaves.  Next year may we be free people.  The Talmud teaches us that when we tell the Passover story, we should tell it from the degradation to the glory.  The degradation of being slaves will with God's help, bring us to the glory of freedom.  In the dark days of the current plague of COVID-19 we feel degraded.  But we hope that God will bring us to the glory of redemption from this plague as God had done for our ancestors in Mitzrayim.  The Salston family will add a final line to the recitation this year.  Hashata babayit, l'shanna ha'ba'a b'yahad.  This year we are like prisoners in our homes.  Next year, with God's help, may we be together with our family and friends.  

On behalf of Liz, Michael, Jen, and Rachel, I wish our entire community Chag kasher v'sameach.  A kosher and happy holiday.  And I pray that our wonderful Kehilah will emerge from this current trouble b'sha'a tova (at it's proper time) and be able to pray together in person.  Until then, remember to shelter in place, wash your hands frequently, and don't touch your faces. wink

Mon, May 25 2020 2 Sivan 5780