Message from COVID Task Force – October 30, 2020

Dear Temple Family,

We hope this message finds each of you well.

We are now moving into the 10th month of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Temple Leadership wants to bring you up-to-speed regarding our Temple’s pandemic preparedness and plans moving forward.

COVID Response Task Force:

In September, Temple President, Robert Berman, authorized the formation of a COVID Response Task Force that was charged with:

  • Developing processes and procedures for Temple Emanu-El’s pandemic response
  • Monitoring preparedness and progress and, in turn, making recommendations to the Board regarding pandemic-related safety policy as necessary.
COVID Response Task Force Members:
Dr. David Askenazi
Dr. Al Cohn
Dr. Adam Kessler
Dr. Julie Wolfson
President, Robert Berman
Rabbi Adam WrightThe Task Force members remain in ongoing dialogue with infectious disease experts, the Jefferson County Department of Health, local medical colleagues, and the Union for Reform Judaism.Please join Temple Emanu-El for a virtual town-hall on Sunday, November 8th at 7:00 PM with our COVID Response Task Force Members. Click here to RSVP.Tiered Approach to Pandemic Response:Our Temple’s degree of COVID-preparedness impacts the overall risk we impart to our congregants. With this in mind, our approach to the recommendations for current Temple activities is based on nationally and internationally vetted guidelines.The World Health Organization (WHO) has assembled a set of considerations and recommendations; these assess religious events and stratify various Temple activities according to the level of risk. The level of risk –  as established using both the WHO tool and updated information from Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Risk Indicator Dashboard –  will help the Temple Task Force determine the active level of risk to our congregation in real-time. We have designed a color-coded tiered response. This corresponds to the level of risk conveyed by these national and regional metrics and will provide guidance regarding staff interactions, religious school gatherings, and sanctuary use.

Mitigation Strategies:

The Temple will work to master appropriate mitigation strategies and safety considerations by continuing current existing mitigation strategies, while also doing the following:

  • Continue to require mask use in all common areas
  • Increase the availability of hand sanitizers
  • Encourage social distancing measures
  • Perform temperature and symptom checks

Click here to view our Temple’s COVID Reentry Plan. The Task Force will provide follow-up recommendations to the Board regarding the Temple’s ability to implement and maintain successful mitigation strategies.  The Task Force anticipates that this current Pandemic Policy should have the necessary flexibility to address relevant updates regarding pandemic-related recommendations, and will require additional information and clarification that is not included in the existing document.The policy provides guidance and transparency to the process and thoughts surrounding Temple’s decision-making as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. Temple Emanu-El cares about protecting the health of its congregants above all else. We recognize the anxious transition to the next level of “modified-normalcy” at the Temple. We look forward to bringing you up-to-date with all the many things that the Temple is doing to provide opportunities for engagement while still working to provide a safe space for us all.  Please join us at the town hall for this important and relevant update.


Al Cohn, MD and David Askenazi, MD
Temple Emanu-El COVID Task Force, co-chairs

Robert Berman,
Temple Emanu-El, President

Rabbi Adam M. Wright