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PJTC Updated Health & Safety Protocol

Dear PJTC Congregants,

 

Your Clergy, PJTC Staff, and Executive Committee continue to collaborate and answer the challenge of the COVID-19 global pandemic by finding ways to serve you while keeping our staff and community as safe and healthy as possible. A Safety & Security Task Force has been created to specifically address congregant needs, and is continually reassessing our protocols.

 

We have instituted updated health & safety protocols, and will update them as the health crisis changes, taking guidance from two principles taught in the Talmud: Pikuach nefesh dohe Shabbat – Action required to save a life supersedes the requirements of the Sabbath; and, Kol Yisrael arevim zeh b’zeh – We are all responsible for one another.

 

We have also gathered some resources to help support our community during this time. Please click here to access them.

 

Please find our updated event information and health and safety policies below [last updated 09/06/22]:

 

 

Dear PJTC Community,

I am writing to you today to let you know about a change in policy and how we arrived at this decision. 

The Board decided starting today, in an effort to continue to protect one another:

  • Congregants will be strongly encouraged to wear masks at services and other PJTC events but we no longer require people to wear them except in designated "masking required" sections.
  • Youth programming including LBSRS and High Holidays babysitting/youth services will continue to require masks during indoor programming and has committed to being outside as much as possible. 
  • And, of course, we will continue to livestream all services for anyone who prefers to participate remotely.

Our tradition has always held that people can be Jewish in different ways, and that notion is a wonderful hallmark of our PJTC community. This is not at all a modern idea. We are taught that even from the times of Exodus and Sinai, Jews disagreed, sometimes with their leaders, sometimes with God, and sometimes with each other. Even in those difficult times, though, B’nai Israel, the Children of Israel, remained a cohesive group. Their staying power became their hallmark, rooting them even when they were unrooted, and has become the legacy that we carry today.

We are now in the third year living with the COVID pandemic, which to some extent has morphed into an endemic that experts say will be with us for many years to come. Synagogues and congregants are learning how to “do Jewish” in many different ways. Masking is one of the most difficult issues because some people are only comfortable wearing a mask and nearby others who are wearing a mask, while others find it very difficult to meaningfully pray and engage with others while wearing one. How, then, do we ensure that everyone in the community is safe, feels welcomed, and is included in this new era?

The Safety & Security Task Force consisted of Michele Masjedi along with Ken Zangwill M.D., Jana Dickter M.D., Sean Surfas, and Aty Rotter. They first convened in May 2021 for the sole purpose of gathering information regarding the pandemic and making expert recommendations, weighing medical implications of safe togetherness. They defined safe gathering and led us through a very delicate time in history. It is with a heart full of gratitude that I ask you to join me in saying, “THANK YOU to SSTF." While the “safety” portion of SSTF regarding COVID related protocols may be complete, there is the security portion that remains so if you’re interested to join STF (Security Task Force), please let me know.

At our last meeting, the Board reviewed their final recommendation of continued masking. The rationale to continue to recommend requiring masking especially during High Holiday (HH) services or other larger events is based on scientific evidence. HH services involve people singing/chanting which are aerosol generating and increase the risk of viral transmission (see article from Clinical Infectious Diseases published in 2021). This is quite different from going to the theater, grocery store, or on an airplane. 

Additionally, LA County Department of Public Health guidelines continue to require masking in various places: public transportation, healthcare settings, senior care settings, and remain strongly recommended in indoor crowded settings--much like what HH services are like. Considering much of the population who attends HH services are elderly and/or have underlying medical issues, SSTF felt for the benefit and safety of the entire community to recommend requiring indoor masking, especially with the singing and chanting that occurs during services. The CDC has put together data that supports the use of masking to prevent the spread of COVID. 

The Board also researched many local synagogues to get a better understanding of how Jewish communities are handling this issue. Taking everything into consideration and attempting the impossible of resolving an issue that is in opposition yet creating a safe space for everyone, the Board decided to create two spaces: there will be reserved areas for “masking optional” and “masking required” in both the sanctuary and social hall. 

At first glance, the thought of dividing the congregation into sections may seem visibly divisive; indeed, for some Jews it might even ring of the separation of men and women in a holy space. Perhaps, though, we can view it as an "Opening to the Tent" rather than the dividing of one. By offering sections, we can meet most congregants where they are. Those who wish for extra precautions may sit with others who choose to follow stricter protocols. That is, people who feel safer wearing masks and being socially distanced from others wearing masks will have the opportunity to do so.

Please click here to let us know your High Holidays plans:

  • If you have already registered for the High Holidays and chose the reserved sanctuary seating option, the PJTC offices will be in touch to learn your seating/masking preference.
  • If you have life seats, even if you have not yet registered for High Holidays, the office will also be in touch shortly to ensure you are seated in the section that helps you feel most comfortable. 

This year’s theme for High Holidays is “Eit Hadash - A New Moment.” A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven...a time for weeping and a time for laughing, a time for wailing and a time for dancing...” a new moment of emergence from the isolation of the recent past into the connectedness that sustains us as a community. 

We hope this New Moment will inspire you to be fully present, masked or unmasked, within our sanctuary that now extends beyond our four walls and into your own sacred spaces so that you may seize this opportunity while the Gates of Heaven remain open this holiday season. 

Sincerely,
Stacey Sharp
PJTC Board President

 

Update from 08/14/22:

 

Dear Congregants,


The Safety & Security Task Force expresses their continued gratitude for your support and compliance with all our Covid Safety protocols throughout summer. They are truly working! Even with the surge over the past couple of months PJTC has avoided any transmission of Covid 19. With many upcoming events and High Holidays quickly approaching, the Task Force met to update protocols. We want to continue this successful and balanced track record as we bring people on-campus while keeping everyone as safe and healthy as possible!

With that in mind, here are the updated protocols:

  • If you are experiencing any cold symptoms such as fever, congestion, cough, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. please join us on our various virtual platforms.
  • The cap of 120 congregants in the sanctuary has been lifted. Moving forward there is no limit on attendance for indoor events. That said, masks must be worn appropriately by anyone over 2 years old for any indoor activities/events with 50+ in attendance.
  • Events where food is served: outdoor dining is preferred and encouraged. If indoor dining is needed, the following must be maintained:
  • Limit of 120 people in the social hall
  • Individually plated or boxed food is encouraged. If buffet, we strongly encourage additional servers/volunteers to give all food to attendees, and to wear gloves/masks.
  • Social distancing is recommended. Round tables will allow 6 per table. 8 per table if outdoor.
  • The CDC, National Guidelines and LA County Public Health recommend Covid-19 vaccines for anyone ages 6 months and up and boosters for those applicable.

There is no concern for Monkeypox at PJTC at this time, but we will follow the Health Department recommendations as noted above since it only reinforces our protocols and their benefit to our community!

Thank you again for your continued support. Together, we can continue to keep everyone safe and TOGETHER at PJTC!

Update from 05/09/22:

S&S task force determined that vaccination status is not required and we are no longer taking rsvps except for large events.

 

As you know, our SSTF continues to monitor and meet regularly to update protocols in an effort to keep our community as safe as possible. We appreciate everyone's cooperation during this very sensitive time. 

At the last SSTF meeting, we continued our efforts to balance the current trends in the COVID case burden in Los Angeles and the latest recommendations from Los Angeles County with our general shared goal of facilitating PJTC’s religious and social activities.

We developed a 2 step approach:

Non-Event, Regular Services/Programs/Meetings:

  • Masking is highly recommended as per Los Angeles County Guidelines, and remains the most important intervention to prevent person-to-person transmission; it is, however, now optional for smaller venues.
  • Please keep in mind that we are a singing community, comprised of immunocompromised and elderly people who may be at high risk for serious complications if they contract an infection.
  • To that end, we will designate an unofficial, masked section for those who want to sit in that area, for their own personal reasons. It will be located in the first set of pews when you enter the sanctuary, on the right-hand side as this area also has the greatest ventilation.
  • However, it is not required to sit in this section while masked. Seating is available per your comfort level, but some cordoning of the pews will remain in place to maintain ongoing distancing. We will continue to keep the doors between the sanctuary and social hall open to allow for distancing, too. 

    Designated Events: the Centennial Shabbat, and B'nai Mitzvot
  • Due to the expected number of people, and the transmission risk inherent to larger crowds, we will continue to require masks during these events.
  • While indoor eating will be available for a limited number of people, outdoor eating will continue to be the preferred option.
  • The SSTF will continue to meet regularly to review protocols and contemporaneous COVID data as experience has taught us that our community has to remain vigilant and nimble in response to changing information: safety is always our number one goal.
  • We look forward to seeing you on campus.

UPDATED as of 02/06/22:
Shabbat and Holiday Services & Events

  • Oneg and Kiddush! Outdoor eating is returning to our regularly scheduled programming. Again, thank you to our Safety & Security Task Force for closely monitoring the numbers and making appropriate and timely adjustments.
    (Updated 02/03/22)
  • We will continuously reevaluate future events in light of the advice of public health authorities.
  • Upcoming special services and events are beginning to open up for limited in-person attendance, generally with an accompanying virtual option when available. Please check our  calendar of events and our Weekly Eblasts for updated information. If you would like to be placed on our eblast subscriber list, please email info@pjtc.net.
  •  

UPDATED as of 01/06/22: 

  • A reminder to stay home if you are NOT feeling well.
  • New masking requirements: Everyone ages 2+ must wear a surgical mask or N95/KN95. Cloth masks are no longer acceptable.
  • Masks must be worn at ALL times upon entering the property. This includes the parking lot
  • Vaccination and negative PCR test requirements remain the same. You must show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of attending.
  • In order to be present at services, you must RSVP in advance using the weekly online link provided. 
  • Honorees being called to the bimah must ALSO wear their masks at all times. The only OPTIONAL exception to this rule is the B’nai Mitzvah student(s) and their parents, if and only if they take the extra step of a rapid antigen test Thursday night prior to their simcha.  
    • Indoor/outdoor food service has been temporarily suspended at all events/programs/services. To-go bags will be available during this time. 
    • Capacity limit remains at 120. However, social distancing will be further implemented by keeping the door open between the social hall and sanctuary to ensure proper, further distancing. 

NEW as of 12/15/2021: Any food served no longer must be individually plated, boxed, or served buffet-style by servers only. With proper hand washing and hygiene this is no longer required, as the risk of transmission via surfaces has been determined over time to be very low, as per CDC guidelines. We ask that buffet-goers de-germ before and after the buffet and at all the individual tables. Sanitation products and signage reminding people to clean their hands will be in eating/serving areas. Wearing masks when not actively consuming food and/or beverage and appropriate social distancing is still required during food service. For more information on this requirement:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/science-and-research/surface-transmission.html

NEW as of 11/9/2021: Reservations to attend services/events are required. 

  • Shabbat services will continue on our regular schedule – 7:30pm Friday, 9:30am Saturday. All services will be available by live streaming video, with limited in-person attendance.

    • Live stream URL for all services: https://venue.streamspot.com/e959bcfd

    • Masks are required for all congregants while on PJTC premises, as well as children ages 2+. No gators, no bandanas, and no masks with valve will be allowed. Attendees who are not wearing their mask correctly covering both their nose and mouth will be handed written notes/reminders from ushers and/or board members.

    • Children under 2-years-old are permitted to attend services as long as they are seated on the lap of a parent/guardian.

    • A limit of 120 people are allowed in the sanctuary for Shabbat and B'nai Mitzvah services.

    • Minimized people on the Bimah with increased/maximum distancing possible; All clergy, Davening Team, Torah readers, Gabbai, and Shofar blower(s) will be without masks when they are singing, reading Torah, or blowing Shofar and will require a negative COVID test regardless of vaccination status.

    • Those on the Bimah must remain at least 20 feet away from congregants in the pews, to allow singing/chanting without a mask. Whenever those on the Bimah need to get closer, masks must be worn.

    • No Torah procession in any service.

    • Any Shofar blown will have a protective covering minimizing the blowing of secretions and will be blown in a direction away from the congregation.

    • Health questions will be asked upon reservation and posted the day of attendance.

    • Pods must maintain 6 feet distancing between each other in the pews.

    • No more than 3 people are permitted in each restroom at any given time.

    • Children must be supervised at all times.

    • Congregants are encouraged to “soft sing” while in services.

    • NEW as of 11/9/2021: Events where food is served, outdoor dining is preferred and encouraged. If the weather or indoor dining is needed, the following must be maintained:

    • A limit of 120 people in the social hall AND
    • Individually plated or boxed food. If buffet, servers must give all food to attendees AND
    • Social distancing is required. Round tables will allow 6 per table. 8 per table if outdoor.
  • UPDATED as of 10/6/2021:*Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test obtained 72 hours prior to attendance is required for all adults, including anyone with an underlying medical condition that prevents vaccination. 

  • NEW as of 10/6/2021: If a service or event is small, with under 50 people, anyone between 2-11 years old unable to be fully vaccinated may attend services without a negative PCR test. Teens/adults who are not able to be vaccinated for any other reasons may still attend with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours. All other protocols including masking and social distancing still apply.

High Holy Days Services

 

  • An attendance cap at 275 people for any one High Holy Day service with encouragement to stay for “your” favorite part.

  • We are replacing babysitting with the use of the Prayground with parent supervision for children 5-12 years old.

  • Services will be shortened when possible.

  • No food will be served for Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast.

  • Service at the LA Arboretum will be outdoors and all are required to wear masks correctly.

  • Tickets will be available at the door upon arrival.

 

Weekday Campus Operations

 


  • Staff and/or clergy members, along with limited volunteers, are working onsite at PJTC, following health & safety protocols.

  • All who come to campus are asked to practice safety protocols such as frequent hand washing, avoiding physical contact, keeping a social distance and wearing a mask (ages 2+).

Youth Education & Programming

 

  • Please visit the LBSRS web page for detailed information about the upcoming 2021-22 religious school year.

  • Please check back soon for updated B’nai Mitzvah tutoring/preparation and USY meeting/event guidelines. 

Pastoral Care

 

  • Clergy, staff, and volunteers will continue to meet the needs of our community in a timely and safe way. Please call PJTC if you or someone you know is in need of our care and attention.

  • Out of an abundance of caution, clergy and other caregivers may prioritize phone calls over in-person visits.

  • Members facing financial hardships due to current events are encouraged to contact PJTC regarding membership dues and other fees.

Adult Education & Programming

 

  • Adult education classes that can be taught online, such as the Miller Introduction to Judaism class and the Adult B’nai Mitzvah class, will continue online; please check back soon for updates.

  • Regular Center activities, such as weekly basketball and juggling, are suspended at this time. Please check back soon for updates.

If you have questions or concerns, are struggling in any way, or you just need someone to talk to at this challenging time, do not hesitate to contact us at PJTC. Please remember, we are committed to serving you through this difficult time, and we are all in this together.

 

We send our blessings and pray for good health,

 

Your PJTC Leadership Team

 

 

Contact Information:

General: (626) 789-1161, info@pjtc.net

Beryl Strauss, Executive Director: beryl@pjtc.net

Stacey Sharp, President, Board of Directors: stacsharp@aol.com

Rabbi John Carrier: RabbiCarrier@pjtc.net

Cantor Ruth Berman Harris: cantorruth@pjtc.net

 


 

*Proof of vaccination requires congregants to show their vaccination card. Showing the card can be accomplished one of the following ways:

a) Upload vaccination card here. Just like many other synagogues, we will not store the card. Rather, we will check a box that indicates proof of vaccination. The upload will then be deleted. It will never be transferred or kept in our system OR

b) You may email a picture of your card to Beryl at beryl@pjtc.net which will be deleted promptly upon processing OR

c) You may set up a zoom or FaceTime call with Beryl by contacting her at beryl@pjtc.net OR

d) You may bring your card to services and show it upon entry. PJTC staff or hired security guards will check the vaccination card at the front door. 

Should a congregant not have proof of vaccination, a PCR test must be taken within 72 hours of any service they plan to attend. The negative PCR test result must be presented upon entry or the congregant will be asked to return home to join virtually. 

 

 

Fri, December 9 2022 15 Kislev 5783