COVID-19 Update from Chicago Sinai

Dear Chicago Sinai Congregation,

Our tradition, committed to Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world, takes seriously our responsibility for the well-being of others. In these disorienting days confronting COVID-19, we at Sinai are working diligently to live up to our Jewish responsibility to create as safe an environment as possible for our community and city. Facing an unprecedented modern public health crisis, we need to postpone many joyful events we were anticipating sharing together. These decisions are painful, but they are easy to make because our choices affect the health and well-being of the world around us. We need to take all reasonable steps to cease the spread of this disease.

We want to inform you that, as of this Friday, March 13th at 4:00 PM, and through Monday, March 30th at 8:30 AM, we will be closing the building of Chicago Sinai Congregation. This closure will alter the shape of many of our services and programs, and we share a few with you below:

  • While the office is closed, all our staff will still be available and working remotely during business hours. If you need to be in touch with us more immediately than by email, please call Sinai’s emergency phone, (773) 676-4727.

  • We will, as always, be live streaming our Friday Evening Shabbat Services. You can participate fully through the live stream on our website here or Facebook Live. If you would like a copy of our prayerbook to participate fully in our worship, you can come by Sinai tomorrow before 4:00 to pick up a copy. If it is difficult for you to get to Sinai, you can email Rabbi Limmer your address before noon tomorrow, and we will make our best effort to deliver prayerbooks to you.

  • We will be sharing our weekly Shabbat Morning Minyan and Torah Study, from 9:30 -11:00 AM, by video conference technology. If you would like to participate in our video call, please contact Rabbi Zinn. A helpful video to learn about using our video conference technology, zoom, can be found here

  • If you experience any problems with technology, we have set up a help-line to aid you in navigating what to many of us is new software and a new way of connecting. Please call 312-834-3259 or email Rebecca Frazin, and we will do our best to help solve any issues we can.

  • Furthermore, given the fact that many of us, young and old, will be spending a lot more time at home and potentially isolated from others, we are exploring distance learning and connecting opportunities that can bring us together. There will be more to come on these fronts in days ahead.

  • For the time being, we are putting our Second Night Seder on hold. While we were really looking forward to being together, we will need to decide in days ahead whether or not we will be able to gather as planned, or if our second night celebration will be virtual. Likewise, we will make other decisions about future programs in days to come. If we are forced to make further cancellations, we will let you know.

  • We still do not know of any diagnosis of COVID-19 in our community. However, if you or a loved one tests positive, please do let us know so we can be sure to take all necessary precautions.

  • Lastly, Mayor Lightfoot’s office reached out to us to ensure that all our members had access to city information and services in the face of COVID-19. Additionally, we want to share CDC guidelines so that everyone can get the best and updated information possible.

Even though our building will be closed and we might be socially at a distance, we are still a strong community. Please reach out to our rabbis for conversation or counsel; please take advantage of new distance opportunities to stay in touch with the values and community that sustains us.

Our Psalms teach that those who sow in tears will reap in joy. It is a heartbreaking decision to shut our buildings and alter or cancel many of our programs. But the tear-filled decisions we make today will allow for that joyful future to arrive more quickly, and for more of our community and city.

May that day come soon, and may we all do our part in bringing it to be,

Rabbi Seth M. Limmer and Susan Koenigsberg Lucas, President, Chicago Sinai Congregation

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